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The importance of human interaction in the workplace and how to achieve it inthe age of hybrid work
30 September 2021
The importance of human interaction in the workplace and how to achieve it in the age of hybrid work
Even though the concept of remote work existed before the pandemic, it is only now that many employers know that working from home can be an effective practice. Furthermore, many of our clients mention that they are now faced with two polarising parties some want to return to the office desperately, and others are comfortable working from home full-time. In fact, a survey conducted by Ipsos revealed that globally, on average, two-thirds of all working adults are more productive when having a flexible work schedule and 64% want flexibility in the amount of time they get to work from the office.
Working from home comes with many benefits; however, it means that we miss out on many spontaneous conversations and interactions that naturally occur when we're together. Therefore, as leaders, we need to find a way to enable social interactions and ensure that our people maintain a good balance between work and home.
How important is human interaction at the workplace?
Humans naturally seek out social interactions from birth and continue to do so throughout life. Moreover, research by the University of Texas shows that these interactions are crucial for our health and well-being. Most people spend the majority of their waking hours at work. So it is imperative that they have some form of human interaction, especially if they don't have time to connect to friends outside of work. Positive interactions at work are essential for teams to function successfully and create a sense of camaraderie, which plays a crucial role in fostering company culture. What's more, face to face interactions facilitate the forging of trusted relationships with colleagues. This can be done in several ways, whether over coffee, lunch break, cigarette break, or even regular office banter. The truth is, having friends at work will increase employee engagement and the quality of work. In fact, one study by Gallup showed that people who have a best friend at work are seven times as likely to be engaged in their jobs, better at engaging customers, produce higher quality work, and have better well-being overall.
Social connections also greatly minimise stress and enhance physical health. In addition, feelings of well-being are strengthened by work interactions where collaboration, trust and positivity are present. Therefore, as a business leader, be sure to create a safe psychological environment where positive interactions and collaborations can occur - don't leave this to chance. You can organise occasional office events, giving your people some much needed time to ‘switch off’ and engage between themselves. It is also vital that you create an atmosphere within your team where members are motivated to express themselves and, most importantly, are valued for their input.
Positive office interaction also improves teamwork significantly, and once colleagues trust each other, they can make it through some pretty challenging times. COVID-19 was a true testament to this, where even though face-to-face contact wasn't possible, some teams really pulled through and worked towards encouraging each other to improve overall morale. A great way to facilitate positive interactions within your organisation is by modelling behaviours that result in great encounters. For example, take the time to ask how your team's weekend was and hold one-to-one meetings regularly to address any issues the team might be experiencing. Most importantly, take the time to understand their goals, challenges and interests - this may help you continue to build positive interactions among your team. To sum it up, make sure you're there for your team!
How can I still achieve some form of human interaction when working remotely?
Utilise the right technology. Nowadays, we are surrounded by software that enables us to communicate and collaborate effectively while still working remotely. A group chat software is nowadays fundamental where each team member joins their channel and can communicate freely as if they were in the office. If anyone wants to work quietly without disturbance, they can join dedicated quiet rooms.
Organise fun online activities This is one of the best ways to stay socially engaged while working from home. As an employer, organise team-building activities, such as a monthly game night or a small online event.
The power of human intercommunication should never go unnoticed, as this ultimately yields a productive and happy workforce. Furthermore, despite the drastic change in office dynamics, interactions are still possible, and it's up to us as leaders to lead this shift in behaviour. Remember to always keep in mind - your company is only as good as its people.