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Ask Dan
Q.
I travel a lot for my job and feel alienated from my co-workers. How can I better connect with them?

A.
For decades, behavioral research has consistently shown that the need to feel connected at the office is critical to employee satisfaction. So it's no wonder a heavy travel schedule can contribute to you feeling alienated from your cohorts.

There may be no way to reduce the time you spend on the road, but there is a way to shrink the distance between you and your co-workers. The key is to use technology to bridge the gap, via instant-messaging apps such as WhatsApp and MessageMe, video-chat services like iChat and Skype, and online-meeting programs such as Go to Meeting. In addition, Facebook and Twitter can keep you close to your colleagues even if you're in Paris and they're in Peoria, IL.

For those connections to be useful, however, follow three easy steps. First, for strictly work-related matters, communicate with your teammates daily at specific times, for example with texts to catch up on current projects. Next, for more formal group meetings, use video-conferencing apps such as Skype or Go to Meeting, which will also give you a visual presence.

Last, if you're connected with co-workers on Twitter and Facebook, keep your social bonds with them going strong via posts and tweets. By creating a routine of regular communication using the technology available, you may find it's the next best thing to actually being there.E



Dan Lumpkin, organizational psychologist, is the president of management-consulting company Lumpkin & Associates in Fairhope, AL. Need answers? Email your career-related questions to askdan@exhibitormagazine.com.
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