Work friendships help us stay engaged, can boost our job performance, and provide us with a sense of support and stability during tough times. But with the current public health crisis, it can be challenging to find the time to build those connections, especially when we’re working more hours than ever and trying to navigate the uncertainty in the world around us. 

It’s actually easier than we may realize to connect with our work family. The answer lies in simple gestures that have a lot of impact. Small yet meaningful actions, like giving a co-worker a compliment, produce benefits that last long after the end of a shift. Telling a co-worker that they did a great job, or thanking them for showing up when we needed an extra hand just feels good. We don’t need to be on the receiving end of kindness to experience the positivity it brings. 

And as we cope with a new normal in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, expressing gratitude to our work allies reminds us that we’re more connected than we think, and we’re all in this together. “Dealing with the same changes and shifts in work life can bring you closer to your co-workers and help you forget about any past differences,” Gail Saltz, M.D., a professor of psychiatry at Weill-Cornell Medical College in New York, tells Thrive. “Coming together to talk is important for building those connections with each other” — even if you do have to stand six feet apart.

With that in mind, try approaching work friends with some extra sensitivity and patience in the coming days. You could also try these Microsteps to help strengthen your bonds with them — and improve your own mood in the process!

Take a moment each day to compliment a co-worker. 

Positive vibes can help us de-stress in tough times. Let someone know you appreciate them.

Ask a co-worker what they’re doing to take care of themselves. 

A simple question can help create community during these tough times. And you may learn a new tip!