Employees the world over revelled in the opportunity to work from home after the Covid-19 lockdowns started. Not everyone has found it to be equally rewarding, though –– especially in the long run. Indeed, for some it has proven to be a decidedly unpleasant and taxing state of affairs.
One of the challenges reported is the lack of social connection.
The social factor
Brenda hates being stuck all on her own at home. Despite the new flexibility and extra hours in the day that WFH has brought, she thrives on company – she’s just not a loner.
But what about quiet, withdrawn Mike, whose absence you hardly noticed in the past?
As it turns out, both extroverts and introverts need a measure of contact and connection. After all, as Maslow told us many moons ago, a sense of belonging is third in the hierarchy of basic human needs. If those needs are not all fulfilled, no matter what type of personality, our functioning at all levels becomes compromised.
Not only that: during office socialising, we tend to influence each other’s work habits and effectiveness as team players, and all sorts of useful information is shared.
Other advantages of socialising with colleagues include increased levels of happiness, health and loyalty; and less stress.
As some companies start easing into a hybrid form of office and home work, there is the opportunity to arrange physical get-togethers in addition to just strictly work-related meetings.
Why not task someone to create a social calendar with interesting talks by experts on a variety of different subjects? This does not have to include only work-related topics – get staff buy-in by also throwing in more personal, home- and health-related stuff. If you don’t have a big budget, staff members can take turns to research a subject and come talk over a cuppa (or online) about what they’ve discovered.
For those who are still working mostly from home, think of creating shared moments with everyone meeting online to celebrate a colleague’s birthday, a company win or a work-related or personal achievement by a staff member. Make sure to give everyone the opportunity to contribute a few words.
Geographically dispersed? Why not arrange regular online catch-up sessions for different departments where they can update each other on recent events as well as plans that are still in the pipeline, some of which they could perhaps even collaborate on?
One of the drawbacks of work having gone online is the lack of mentorship that some inexperienced workers complain of. Make sure that someone takes responsibility for introducing mentees to suitable mentors, and that those mentors understand the importance of regularly connecting with their mentee, even if there is no specific pressing need to do so. Newbies do not only need work guidance – they also need to gain a sense of belonging and of fitting in with the company.
Companies can also encourage employees to log their exercise sessions on a shared platform and compete with one another in terms of meeting their exercise objectives. They can share their performance through an app on their smart watch or a dedicated fitness device.
As the effects of the worldwide lockdowns continue to permeate the world of work, it is important to make up for the lack of personal interaction. Not only will this make for happier employees – the company will also benefit from the resultant cross-pollination of ideas and inspiration.