How Virtual Socializing Saved My Mental Health by@carsoncgibbons

How Virtual Socializing Saved My Mental Health

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Carson Gibbons HackerNoon profile picture

Carson Gibbons

Director of Sales @ Preciate Formerly Co-Founder @ Cosmic JS Y Combinator W19 Batch

It's March 2020. I'm 5 months into a new role as Director of Sales at Preciate when the pandemic hits and sends us all home. I really valued joining a startup with a physical office presence and face-to-face interaction, especially after working remotely for 3.5 years at my last startup. I now found myself on that all-too-familiar Zoom call, this time trying to continue creating stronger bonds with my teammates but struggling to do so.

I know the ideal of recruiting great talent to work at a startup in a physical office was becoming a tall order, even pre-pandemic. Now it's relatively impossible given the nature of remote work and the fact that top talent know they can leverage remote work as an added benefit to joining a company. The best workers will have optionality.

Not only did the pandemic send us all home, but it also sent a lot of people into unhealthy mental states. The commonality of anxiety disorders in 2020 was approximately three times more than those reported in 2019, and those with depression were reported to be four times more than in 2019. The sudden decline in people’s mental health went, no doubt, hand in hand with the pandemic. All of a sudden, people didn’t know when they were going to return to their offices or if it was even safe to leave their homes. The spring of 2020 was a time of a lot of anxiety for some to be left with a lot of unknowns, and being left alone can also send people into depressive episodes. 

Thankfully people were able to adapt to their new reality pretty quickly. Folks found creative ways to connect with their colleagues, friends, and family. They quickly realized that social presence and agency changed the whole “stay at home” game. That’s when Preciate really came into play. I used it to connect with people virtually. We would all gather in a virtual meeting and I would move around from one conversation to the other– just like the cocktail hours I missed so much. 

I would have a standing Friday night meeting on Preciate with all my friends. During those days of the lockdown, this became the one thing I had to look forward to all week. I also used this time to have virtual lunch (at home) with friends I haven’t spoken with in years because we had moved away from each other. All of a sudden, people were reconnecting and it helped to know that I wasn’t the only one. While we didn’t necessarily discuss our anxieties, I think it was obvious that just being able to talk with someone else during these times was a welcomed comfort. 

As a company, it can be hard to build a welcoming culture and maintain relationships when you don’t physically see each other—so getting creative helped. Among the things we did to boost company morale and engagement, we hosted virtual game nights on Preciate. The platform allowed us to break into teams on the meeting and confer with each other about our collective answer because the audio proximity tool kept our conversations secret from those whose bubbles were far enough away from us. It was an excellent way to connect with people I hadn’t met or seen physically in a long time. 

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Virtual socializing was (and still is) fun and easy. Preciate saved my mental health, specifically because it had much more to offer me than other platforms like Zoom or Google Meets. Preciate lets users customize their space by adding background music, personalizing the entire background by pinning images or items, not just your singular box. You can also move around to different conversation bubbles as I mentioned before. Working for the company didn’t not help my bias towards it, but hey, I’m only human. 

So not only did I use Preciate to stay connected with my friends and family, but I also used it every day in my professional life. 

It’s been nearly two years since we were all sent to work from home. We all remember that time and what we did to make it through, including fostering our relationships over the internet. Since then, some have returned to their offices, some have committed to staying home, and some have found a balance of both. Whichever route you’ve chosen, there’s no avoiding virtual meetings anymore. 

Therapists and doctors even offer services virtually to adjust to the new way of life! It’s also been reported that virtual interactions decreased loneliness among people and increased their sense of social support (myself included).

Every day the standards of virtual meetings are changing, so Preciate is an ever-evolving platform, and as I said, the future of work is remote. I also believe that the future of socialization is remote as well. It’s all here to stay, so we might as well embrace it!

Preciate is an enterprise Social Presence® Platform dedicated to helping its users create more authentic connections that accelerate business. Through dynamic movement and spatial audio, users are able to create healthier relationships at every interaction. Companies are able to brand their virtual meeting spaces with custom backgrounds and Room Items that turn meetings into memorable moments. All of this accelerates the rate at which they can build trust, collaborate, recruit, sell, onboard.

If you're interested in learning more about Preciate, I'd start with this guide from Preciate's Help Center: What is Preciate? How Does it Work?

It's easy to Sign Up and Create a Room. Read more about Preciate's Purpose as Public Benefit Corporation.

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