The Importance of Social Interaction in Work

Are Boards too 'Complacent' When It Comes To Ethnic Diversity? Call Of The WildThere have been a significant number of surveys recently concerning the impact of Covid and what it means for the future of work.

For instance a recent survey by the Institute of Employment Studies (IES) has revealed some alarming trends.

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Survey Results

The survey results showed that:-

  • that people working from home are drinking more alcohol;
  • people are eating less healthy food;
  • people are having problems sleeping; and
  • there is a significant increase in new aches and pains in the neck, shoulder and back.

Working From Home

Diet and exercise are on the worsening, with lack of sleep being based on increased worry. Half of those polled said they were working longer hours and were not happy with their life-work balance. One in three said they felt isolated. So working from home is not necessarily the panacea that people believed it to be! Many want to return to work and the office pictured as a Dodo is premature as there might be life in the old dog yet!

What’s Missing With Home Working

With smart phones, video calls,  Zoom, Teams and a hundred and one other video conferencing platforms to choose from then why the need for the office. No commuting, work the hours you want, walk the dog, walk the kids when convenient for them not you obviously!

But it’s not all rosy in the garden as can be seen from the survey results. There is a yearning on the part of some for that that structure, discipline, routine and more importantly of all that under valued social interaction when in the office. I’m in work mode as I’m in the office. I’m at home so I’ll work, put the washing on, get interrupted on a Zoom call by someone at the door or being shot in head by a Nerf gun fired by your kids!

Vodafone UK

Vodafone UK

No opportunity for that  team bonding, no chance to get the creative juices flowing from bouncing ideas off each other, no overheard conversations to inspire creative thinking or those eureka moments. How do you maintain that organisational culture it’s taken years to build? How do you induct staff and allow them to develop in the way they and you would want in normal circumstances? How do you even know if that person you’ve newly recruited is a good fit if you’ve never worked with them?  How do you coach and mentor your staff? The importance of the informal interaction around the kitchen, canteen or just the kettle is not to be underestimated.

So many unanswered questions.

Managing remote teams is possible but difficult without sufficient thought and training. How do you know if someone is suffering from stress or mental health problems if you can’t read their body language or hear their tone of voice?

The boundaries between work and personal life are blurred at the moment and difficult to navigate for many. Remote workers are already juggling more, whether it’s looking after kids or figuring out how to co-work with their spouses – and in the younger generations – spending a lot more time with flatmates. This is also whilst dealing with the usual distractions as mentioned above such doing domestic chores or simply answering the door or finding a quiet space.

The Future

Home working is not for everyone and actually it’s not for most – the need to collaborate and socialise are too strong . However the 9 to 5 Monday to Friday, sitting at a desk  is also not the answer. There needs to be more of a focus on output and not just time. Managers will need to adjust their mindset to managing their flexible workforce through the office and through remote working. Some managers will not cut the mustard as this new way of working will not suit their management style. It will require a more empathetic authentic style as oppose to an autocratic style and as a result some will fall by the wayside.

Advice and Guidance

As with all crystal ball gazing into the future this view will probably be proven to be totally wrong and we’ll be back in the office before we know it! Sorry got to go as I’ve got another video call – Can you hear me!!