I am part of a group of software developers who work remotely in different parts of the world. Some of us work in the U.S. and some in 3 other countries. The colleagues that work outside of USA are long-term contractors hired through external consulting firms while we in the U.S. are permanent employees.
There are not a lot of purely social interaction between our teams, or at least not between me and the rest of the teams, simply because I typically prefer to focus on my work as much as I can and it tends to keep me quite busy.
Our social interaction is generally limited to a short daily scrum call (about 10-15 min) and occasional IMs regarding work-related questions.
I do not find this level of social interaction to be a problem however, as I feel that when we do talk with each other the conversations have always been very friendly. Also as I have somewhat more experience than many of my colleagues, I try to help when they have problems or questions.
Two weeks ago our line manager told us that they would hire additional people in our team through the LaunchCode program; these would be individuals with little experience that would get trained to work in this field.
This annoucement led one of my colleagues who works in one of the foreign locations to later IM me about his concerns with the company. When he initially voiced his concern it was about things like "what we should think about new younger people getting trained for this work".
But my problem is that it was not left with that. A week or so ago he asked me if I also felt that other team members had sounded concerned during our scrum call earlier that day. I couldn't share his sentiment about the team members voices so I ignored the question and directed the conversation to a related issue.
More recently he has started asking questions along the lines of whether I'm also feeling that the environment is very terse or if I have noticed that some people seem stressed out, and so on.
I realize that some of his concerns could be warranted because the team at his location has recently been reduced from the original 4 to just him.
But in my case, I have not noticed any unusual stress or terseness on part of our team or the management. I am also not his manager so I am sort of the wrong person to involve in these kinds of concerns. Unless maybe he is looking for an ally or something.
I do feel a bit awkward to completely ignore his IMs, so I thought I ask here about other approaches.
How could I politely repel negative suggestive comments about the work morale or atmosphere?