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What a Year of WFH Has Done to Our Relationships at Work

Since we started working from home more than a year ago, we are fond of the time spent with coworkers having small conversations and bonding with colleagues as well as establishing trust and goodwill. Building social capital is what we call this, and when we draw on it, we get nowhere. An organization’s and individual’s success depends on it.

This has been turned upside down by the shift to remote work. The employees may attend meetings, but the personal connections that they built up in the office are lost.

There has been a noticeable change in the feeling of disconnect and the shrinkage of networks as a result of remote work. Those in close contact with each other interacted more, while those in distant contact decreased.

To connect with regularly seen people, people let others go. They became more siloed. We are also reducing our interactions with our closest friends and relatives.

Innovation and productivity depend on strong interactions at work. Those who are new to the organization may be more isolated socially.

Having new employees who haven’t experienced onboarding, meeting a coworker in person, or networked like they would have had in the office has been harder for them.

There has been an improvement in team isolation in countries like Australia and New Zealand, which have started using hybrid models. Further reinforcing the notion that remote work leads to organization silos, but in-person meetings can contribute to improved understanding between teams.

Work from home has impacted productivity levels of UK workers according to a TalkTalk Group report released in September of 2020. Report findings include:

  • Work from home workers report higher productivity levels 58% of the time
  • Workers said 52% of them would never work in an office environment again
  • The most important factor for enabling WFH was a safe, fast, and reliable broadband connection, according to 81% of business leaders

Success Principles for Working at Home

The principles are essential to the success of relationships in which one or both partners work together, increasing the level of interaction between them.

Supporting their WFH employees in understanding and applying these principles will lead to a lasting relationship and help the arrangement stay sustainable for years to come.

1. Be proactive

As a result of a hybrid work environment, teams become comfortable seeking out and sharing different perspectives and offering similar learning opportunities. One-on-one meetings between managers and employees should be scheduled regularly. In addition to bringing people together across unrelated groups, managers should be the link that binds them.

2. Create room for informal conversations

The number of meetings has doubled and the number of chat messages exchanged has risen by more than 50% since the switch to remote work. Time, place, and effort are also necessary for developing informal conversations. To make informal relationships a priority, managers should reduce workloads or balance them.

3. Recognize and reward social support

Building your network requires discussions outside of work and should be done outside of a formal work environment. Companies that encourage and support their employees to help others feel more satisfied.

4. Meetings should be social and intentional

When meetings are hybridized, they combine in-person and remote components. Coordination and facilitators may be needed to ensure everyone is included.

The moderator will speak up and ensure everyone can participate in the discussion, as well as speak up on difficult topics. To get everyone involved, teams need to plan well-planned interactions.

5. Enhance communication and conflict resolution skills

When differences are understood, it is usually easier to agree on roles and responsibilities based on strengths and what each person is capable of doing well, as well as their availability.

To date, dividing household chores and responsibilities has been rife with conflict, generally centered around misunderstandings and frustrations related to different family backgrounds and gender stereotypes.

Work from home can lead to heightened tensions, not to mention the fact that they are visceral, creating potentially more stress than is alleviated. When conflicts between employees don’t get handled, businesses may experience “remote-presenteeism” in which employees show up to their remote desks but feel emotionally detached, which makes them incapable of staying focused on the job.

6. Master scheduling and prioritization

WFH offers its members the opportunity to design their ideal day and lead according to their values while having the mental space to be creative, fully productive, and accomplish more than they could achieve in the office environment. However, to achieve that freedom, you have to be disciplined, something that seems contradictory.

A company can also be proactive in helping prepare their employees to work from home successfully, especially in this age of interruptions from technology that is supposed to make working from home more productive and convenient.

Our smartphones, laptops, computers, and tablets constantly ping us with alerts and notifications – whether it’s an urgent message or an announcement about a sale from a company you’ve never heard of, or information about products we don’t need or want.

In addition to meals, school runs, parent support, gym workouts, laundry, cooking, and other household chores, living at home can also be distracting. In the self-development toolkit that should be provided to employees ahead of their transition to WFH, employees should learn how to create a schedule that reflects their values and priorities, stay on track by staying accountable, and get back on track when things go awry.

A schedule created by employees will help them communicate when they’re available and unavailable to their nearest and dearest, thus preventing unnecessary conflict caused by unmet expectations. It will also help mitigate the problem of having trouble stopping and having family time or just relaxing while working from home.

7. Humanizing Management Structures

For employees to feel satisfied and well-cared for, leadership and management are crucial. The disconnect between business leaders and employees persists despite this.

This disconnect was the driving force behind the idea of “humanized management.” As a result of humanizing management, the focus is on individuals instead of broad worker statistics. It is crucial how managers themselves are trained and vetted if this type of management is to be achieved.

Final words

As the world battled the Covid-19 pandemic, working from home became the norm across all industries. With the flu epidemic slowing, most companies are now exploring the impact work-from-home environments have on their employees’ mental health.

A fun, collaborative, and kind culture should be emphasized. A company should understand the importance of chatting, being nice, and being productive together. Through these informal interactions, employee relationships are improved, which boosts social capital and improves understanding between members.