Posted by Kate Demmerling

Posted 24 February, 2021 After Work, OBI BLOG, Uncategorised

The ability to stay connected in numerous senses has dramatically changed over the past eleven months due to government restrictions and multiple lockdowns. Although staying home protects everyone’s physical health, having little to no physical contact with those outside of our home can be detrimental to our mental wellbeing. The pandemic has adversely impacted the ability to connect to family, friends, colleagues, and clients.

OBI’s staying connected series focuses on the power of staying connected and the positive experiences some of our team have experienced over the past year.

Series 1 -The power of workplace connections
By Kate Demmerling who is part of our Workplace Consultancy team

Connection in the workplace has always been more than simply being connected through the use of technology. Connection has a deeper meaning which refers to the emotional connections between colleagues and where a company operates as a ‘family’. It is about relating to people, Ideas, objects, perspectives, backgrounds, and values. If people can relate emotionally to each other, this creates a foundation for deeper connection.

The pandemic has put a huge strain on all aspects of our lives, but in particular we are being deprived socially. Previously the office acted as a social hub where social interaction was guaranteed, however now many businesses are dealing with a distributed workforce, where it is crucial to establish connections amongst employees to maintain that positive culture and community. Being a part of a community helps us feel connected to something larger than ourselves. We feel a sense of belonging which in turn leads us to feel committed to our work and the company we are a part of. Not only does a sense of community add value to our lives, but we are also more productive and accountable. Those who feel isolated are likely to be less committed to their work and the wider business.

The physical workplace plays a key role in facilitating connection. Being within proximity to colleagues enables ease of collaboration and impromptu conversation. Humans are social creatures and it’s these ‘in-person’ conversations that are still relevant and critical to combat workplace loneliness and increase engagement. Whilst the open plan office can be great for such interactions, it is important to recognise that individuals have different workstyles and personalities. The office design should reflect these needs and provide a variety of spaces, private and open for employees to use, helping them feel comfortable in the workplace. It is also important to remember that whilst technology can be an aid to communication it should not be used as a constant crutch and completely replace face-to-face interaction.

Being connected is far more than just being connected in a technological way. Being able to relate to our colleagues helps us to feel connected. It is important to maintain these connections with colleagues helping individuals feel a part of a community and nurturing a positive company culture. As we look to the future and moving away from solely working from home it is important to remember the office as a hub for collaboration and a place where we can feel connected to our colleagues. These tough times we are experiencing, have allowed us to appreciate the connections that we have and develop deeper compassion for our colleagues, ultimately strengthening the company culture.