Workplace relationships play a critical role in business. The better relationships your employees have with one another, the more that communication and collaboration will be enhanced. As a result, employees will likely perform their job better and find more satisfaction with your company. Clearly, workplace relationships go beyond making small talk by the water cooler. Over the past year, workplace relationships took a hit as professionals began working remotely. Fortunately, employees are beginning to return to the office, and it's important that workplace relationships are rebuilt. To help you achieve this, we will discuss 3 practices for rebuilding workplace relationships within your organization.
Hybrid Social Events
Customs in your office have likely changed over the past year. Perhaps before the pandemic, you held birthday parties in the office or met together for happy hour on Fridays after work. Over the past year, bonding opportunities were unavailable as employees were forced to work from home. As employees begin to return to the office, they seek ways to reimplement these activities safely. But, one challenge with this is that not all employees are returning to the office.
Many organizations are implementing a hybrid work model, which allows employees to work either remotely in the office. While this is an excellent solution for companies post-pandemic, it means that WFH employees may be excluded from relationship-building events held in person. Fortunately, there are some ways to avoid this. Offering hybrid activities, such as virtual happy hour, can appease both in-person and remote employees. Ensuring equity between employees can them build relationships no matter where they work.
Offering events such as hybrid happy hours also allows employees to meet colleagues that they may not typically interact with. Especially for those working remotely, it will enable them to interact with colleagues on a personal level without entering the office. Traditionally, workplace relationships were built through small talk in the office, but today we must utilize non-traditional solutions.
So, during these hybrid social events, encourage employees to share fun facts and speak freely. While it may be slow at first, employees will grow more comfortable with one another and find similarities amongst each other. Once employees get to know one another in a less formal setting, it opens the door to build a workplace relationship.
A less formal method of building employees' relationships is by offering flexible seating in the office. As employees work throughout the day, they engage in small talk, which is where many workplace relationships start. By offering flexible seating, such as desk rotation, employees can sit with different individuals each day instead of the same people with traditionally assigned desks. This exposes individuals to more than just the people they work directly with and more than if they were to sit beside the same person every day. With hot-desking, this flexibility is achievable. Hot desking, enabled by a desk booking solution, enables employees to book their seats in advance. This allows employees to work at a desk that meets their preferences and has the resources they need. This solution also serves as an excellent tool for allowing employees to meet new colleagues, as they see a fresh face every day.
In the same realm of hot desking is an activity-based workplace. This is the concept that employees should be able to choose their workspace dependent on the activities they need to complete that day. If an activity requires great focus and concentration, they can work in a secluded area. Alternatively, if they feel more productive and creative while working with others, they can choose to work in a shared room.
In terms of building workplace relationships, activity-based workplaces are an excellent solution. Similar to hot desking, employees are exposed to different people each day, allowing them to network in the office. In addition to this, employees are seated by individuals with the same activity or preferences. This lets employees know that they have something in common from the start, enabling them to build a relationship.
In the traditional office, pre-pandemic, it was fairly typical for colleagues to check in with one another. Walking around the office, individuals could pop their heads in others' cubicles for a quick "hello" or casual conversation. Slowly, these interactions built into relationships, and employees could develop their relationships with one another. This translated into happier employees, in addition to increased collaboration and communication.
As employees are beginning to return to the office, this practice is becoming an option again for relationship building. Encourage employees to stop at colleagues' texts on occasion and walk around the office. Perhaps these encounters will become routine, and your employees will familiarize themselves with their colleagues while making friends. While there is a balance between being friendly and nosy, a simple question or "hello" can open the door for a healthy workplace relationship.
Even for employees continuing to work from home, check-ins are a great practice. Sending a simple message or email reading "how was your weekend?" or "how is your week going?" is highly beneficial in building workplace relationships. Simple conversations such as this open the door for a positive relationship while allowing colleagues to learn about each other on a more personal level. Especially with WFH employees, sending a small check-in can show them that they are appreciated and haven't been forgotten.
Workplace Relationships are Vital
Workplace relationships are essential to maintain team member engagement and satisfaction. With stronger relationships in the office, employees are more inclined to share ideas, collaborate with colleagues, and offer help to one another. These benefits directly translate into improved success and productivity for the company as a whole. When employees feel that they are members of a happy and healthy office culture, they will dedicate more time and effort to their organization.
By implementing simple practices such as hybrid social events, flexible seating, and routine check-ins, employees will start to form workplace relationships with ease. Encouraging employees to build these relationships will lead them to meet new people, network with colleagues, and find more satisfaction and joy within your company. As an employer, it is your job to cultivate positive work relationships between employees. With a few intentional pushes in the right direction, you will see relationships begin to bloom in your office in no time.