Author: admin in: Food for Thought

Connecting Remote Workers

July 28, 2021

Every cloud has a silver lining. That’s the old saying. But sometimes, you need some fancy lenses and scientific tools to find it.

The pandemic has been a huge dark cloud on the world for over 18 months but even then, the silver linings are starting to show.

Some highlights from this time include less pollution or proof of what medical science can do with enough funding.

A smaller but crucial bright spot has been the proof of the wonders of working from home.

Productivity Peaks

One of the worries was the negative effect on productivity that would come from a lack of direct management of workers.

Turns out these concerns were mostly for naught. Across the globe and in almost every industry, global office worker productivity soared when everyone started working from home.

Also, the remote office way of onboarding new hires increase remote workers feelings of belonging and get them up to speed sooner.

Remote meetings provide another benefit. Running video conferences led to everyone feeling heard and equal.

But some started to notice a loss.

Ties that Bond Us

The was no loss in productivity, remarkably, even as the weeks turned to a year+ working from home. The breakdown started to form in the personal connections that keep an organization running efficiently.

The personal connections formed by shared projects or work areas were kept strong, since the staff that had a regular reason to communicate with one another kept doing so and these interactions, even via DM or occasional video meeting, kept connections strong.

However, connections made through occasional contact, like talking to a colleague at the water cooler or sitting together for lunch, those all but ceased. This means soft connections started eroding, which also brought up more difficulty for mentoring and soft knowledge spread.

The concern is that these soft connections, or lack thereof, can lead to a drop in the social culture in a firm. That interactive energy where members from one team have a good rapport with members of other teams, leading to efficient knowledge transfer and processes.

In essence, weakening soft connections can lead to inefficient knowledge silos.

Bypassing Silos

While active communication between core members is keeping the company working well, the glue that holds the social fabric of a company together, the soft connections, should be strengthened.

Ensure that these connections are made by…

Cross organizational teams

When implementing a hybrid model, ensure that staff from different teams that don’t connect regularly can be in the office at the same time. This can lead to establishing connections between unrelated teams.

Form online teams

Make video conferences for team meetings mandatory to ensure that all members feel heard and involved.

Implement a Mentor Program

While your seasoned staff will have less issues with remote work, set up a mentorship program. This ensures that new hires know someone with the soft skills required to succeed in your company. Mentors that are in a different unit can still know how to help acclimatise the new hire while building new soft connections.

Conclusion

The productivity peak seen at the start of the pandemic is dropping. This is in part due to weaker personal connections between unrelated teams.

While looking at ways to better manage remote or hybrid workers, look for how you can ensure these workers can build the soft connections that lead to the continued success of the company.

References

Figuring Out Social Capital Is Critical for the Future of Hybrid Work,

 

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