In the pre-pandemic era, the connected workplace was the office where everyone came together every day to be productive. But things have changed, and there's been a lot of discussion about the difficult task of making remote employees feel connected. So far, it seems that we still can't agree on what a connected workplace is nowadays, and how to create one.
Could it be that things are simpler than they look?
- A connected workplace integrates tools for seamless communication.
- Connection boosts productivity, relationships, and knowledge sharing.
- Benefits include collaboration, mobility, efficiency, and data insights.
- Technologies like collaboration platforms and cloud computing enable teamwork.
- Mobility supports flexible work, while automation enhances efficiency.
- Data collection informs decisions and improves productivity.
- Connected workplaces lead to increased profitability.
- Hybrid work scheduling and space management tools are vital for adaptability.
- Building a connected workplace involves shared values, diverse collaboration, and recognition.
- Rituals and inclusive communication foster a culture of belonging.
Defining the Connected Workplace
A connected workplace is simply one that integrates all assets, business and tech tools so that everyone, regardless of location, can communicate and collaborate effectively. This shared system greatly simplifies the management of employees and ensures a fair, transparent, and ultimately connected workplace.
The Importance of Connecting With Employees in the Workplace
Connection is, perhaps, the most important component in building a productive and efficient workplace. Connected teams experience a sense of belonging, cultivate healthy working relationships and support knowledge sharing. The more connected we are as colleagues, the more efficient the workplace will be, and the more engaged we will feel.
Benefits of a Connected Workplace
With teams spread across cities, states and countries, innovative systems that support collaboration are becoming a must. A connected workplace offers many benefits, and investing in connected office technologies will only foster collaboration, mobility, efficiency, data collection and profitability.
Teams that don’t collaborate well remotely slow down business functions. A connected workplace solution should integrate with other tools the company uses and facilitate communication and collaboration between individuals, teams and executives.
In a connected workplace, employees can work from any location and any device. The flexibility allows them to easily complete tasks, because everything they need to get work done is always available. If your employees can’t do this, it might be time to rethink the old workflows.
A connected workplace needs a great automation strategy which allows employees to automate tasks that don't require human intervention, and use the time saved to complete more complex tasks instead. Remote support IT, for example, can reduce downtime and increase efficiency.
Conduct most of your business on a single integrated platform and make it easy to collect data about how employees work. Employee preferences and satisfaction, time management and productivity, and IT tickets are just some of the information you could be recording to help you make more informed decisions.
Collaboration, mobility, efficiency, and data capture can save costs, increase productivity, and improve employee retention. These benefits ultimately translate into the biggest advantage for the companies willing to innovate: profitability.
Redefining the Workplace
Connected workplace technologies enable employees’ access to information and resources. No need to keep on tying success to physical visibility when smart solutions are being developed every day allow employees access to the same on-site environment—regardless of where they work.
Technology and Tools Supporting Connected Workplace
It’s no longer about where you go, it's about what you get done. By connecting disparate data points, workplace technologies help organizations make faster and better decisions. Plus, they bring excitement to the business, boost productivity and increase security! Here are some of the most-used connected workplace technologies:
- Cloud computing: Enables remote access to data, applications, and services, facilitating collaboration and data sharing from anywhere.
- Collaboration platforms: Tools like Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Zoom provide virtual spaces for real-time communication, file sharing, and video conferencing.
- Project management software: Platforms like Asana, Trello, and Jira help teams coordinate tasks, set timelines, and track progress irrespective of physical location.
- Virtual whiteboards: Digital whiteboarding tools like Miro and Jamboard allow teams to collectively brainstorm, plan, and visualize ideas.
- Document sharing and storage: Services like Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive enable easy access, editing, and sharing of documents across devices.
- Video conferencing equipment: High-quality cameras, microphones, and speakers enhance the virtual meeting experience, making remote participants feel more connected.
- Unified communication systems: Integrates various communication channels such as email, chat, voice, and video into a single platform for streamlined interaction.
- Employee mobile apps: Mobile applications provide on-the-go access to communication, collaboration, and productivity tools.
- Cybersecurity solutions: Protects sensitive data and ensures secure remote access through measures like VPNs, encryption, and multi-factor authentication.
- Analytics and reporting tools: provides insights into team performance, resource allocation, and project progress, aiding data-driven decision-making.
- Remote desktop software: Facilitates accessing office computers remotely, enabling the use of specialized software and resources.
- E-signature platforms: Simplifies the process of signing documents digitally, reducing the need for physical paperwork.
- Hybrid work scheduling calendars: Tools like this enable organizations to effectively manage and communicate hybrid work schedules.
- Space management tools: Software for booking and optimizing office spaces, such as YAROOMS Workplace Experience Platform, ensures efficient utilization of physical work environments in a hybrid setup.
30 Ideas to Create a More Connected Workplace
A few tips on how to create a more connected workplace for your employees:
1. Define, Share, and Live By Your Company Mission, Vision, and Values
You can’t create a connected workforce if your employees don’t have any common goals. It’s essential to promote the corporate vision, mission and values throughout the organization. Post them on an easily accessible platform, and encourage your employees to align their individual goals with it!
2. Lead by Example and Give Examples
Organizations launch new initiatives to encourage collaboration all the time. However, if leaders don't lead by example, such initiatives are unlikely to be embraced by employees. Collaboration practices only become a natural and authentic part of the culture when leaders support and reinforce them.
3. Create a Sense of Belonging for All
Everyone should feel comfortable and safe at work. Help employees feel that way by creating an open and welcoming environment. Regularly share personal and company photos and stories to maintain a personal tone in the workplace. Social events should also be held regularly—even virtual ones.
4. Have More “Engaged” Employees in an Organization
Enthusiasm, commitment and interest are the basic requirements for an employee to be "engaged". But while someone can be engaged when they are busy getting something done, if they lack enthusiasm they won’t be contributing to the innovation process.
5. Know Your Employees Personally
Managers and HR professionals need to connect with their employees on a personal level. This creates a sense of belonging and encourage employees to want to stay with the company longer. Benevolent activities should be done consistently for this reason, and no employee should be “skipped”, for any reason.
6. Increase Collaborative Working
While social events allow employees to socialize naturally in their preferred groups, they can occasionally make some people feel marginalized or excluded. Create work situations where collaboration happens in different ways. Encourage employees to work on cross-company projects, with new people.
7. Make Mission-Critical Information Available
Important information should be well documented, easily accessible, and clearly communicated. The clarity helps workers remain focused on the overall task at hand, rather than browsing for information. Why not build a robust library to centralize all the documents staff might need?
8. Make It Easy to Celebrate
Cultivating a habit of effortless recognition and, of course, celebration is key to making employees feel valued. Give everyone permission to celebrate in their own way, and do it often! Unite your workforce with an instant peer reward system and encourage friendly internal competitions.
9. Foster a Culture of Employee Recognition
Foster a culture that invites experimentation and supports and rewards employees for trying out new ideas. This way, employees won’t be afraid to adjust and try again. Create a system to encourage them to recognize each other’s achievements, celebrate, and even award them.
Give Recognition to the Voice of Employees
Encourage open and meaningful conversations, and provide accessible internal communication channels. Make it easy for all to join in. Create a virtual model of a "suggestion box" where employees can contribute ideas regarding how to improve the work environment.
10. Help Every Employee Reach Their Goals
Encouraging employees to set and achieve individual goals that are specific, measurable, and relevant to the company is a great way to keep them motivated. Regular check-ins and progress reviews will help you assess performance and ensure that any potential challenges or areas for improvement are addressed.
11. Make It Easier to Ask for Support
Create a reciprocity ring, where employees can meet regularly and share what they're struggling with. The rest of the group can then offers ideas, contacts, and resources to support them. When employees invest in each other's personal development, a culture where friendships can thrive is created.
12. Create Diverse Opportunities for Social Interaction
Remote work can affect employees' opportunities to meet new people. You could try creating ongoing opportunities for social interaction, both within existing groups and with new people (during team nights, employees might socialize with their colleagues but miss out on the opportunity to make new connections).
13. Embrace Random Connections
Create groups based on personal interests to connect team members from different departments. This will also make those entering the workforce feel like part of team quicker! Set up a platform where employees can join clubs and communities and find like-minded people outside of their departments.
14. Make Your Culture Visible
A conscious expression of your culture helps people understand what matters and connect with them. From office decor to team meetings, it all gives clues to what your culture is about. Keep employees involved and connected to the pulse and culture of the company by making sure it is transparent.
15. Give Your Employees a Voice
According to Forbes, employees who feel they are being listened to are 4.6 times more motivated to do their best at work. Encourage open and meaningful conversations, and provide accessible internal communication channels for people to voice their opinions and ideas.
16. Hear What Your Employees Are Actually Saying and Act On It
Do you conduct regular employee engagement surveys? Do you encourage regular conversations and one-on-one meetings? Are you listening to what your employees have to say, measuring it, and acting on it? Pay attention to feedback and consider new solutions to improve the employee experience.
17. Sheltered Onboarding Process
HR staff and managers must create a welcoming environment for the entry-level employee that allows them to develop confidence and do their best in their new roles. Make them feel connected by running virtual orientation programs and helping them learn at their own pace.
18. Hire or Grow Authentic, Passionate Leaders
Your leaders should be your key liaisons. Find candidates who truly care about your people and your company. Make them understand the importance of helping teams align and find help. Leaders should first and foremost strive to be approachable and make personal connections.
19. Challenge Traditional Frameworks
Analysis of digital communication patterns using AI has exploded in the workplace, and it’s no wonder! Companies need to think about how employees can stay connected while working from home or remotely these days, and understanding employee behavior patterns by using AI can definitely help with that.
20. Think of Your Organization as a Community
In a community, members are supported and respected, work is unified and common goals are pursued. Regular social events, whether online or face to face, can bring the company and its employees together, and help create a family-like atmosphere.
21. Act of Kindness and Treat Every Employee With the Same Respect
Treat every employee as an equal, provide equal opportunities, include everyone and encourage them to participate at social events. Use emotional intelligence to tap into your employees' emotions and show them empathy to gain their trust.
22. 1:1 Connect
During 1:1 interactions employees are more likely to feel seen and valued. Such meetings are important when it comes to performance management, as you can give (and receive) constructive feedback. Make sure to let them know that their presence is important to the company.
23. Provide Non-monetary Increments to Employees
Non-monetary incentives are benefits that employers offer to their employees. They are a way to reward people outside of the regular, monetary compensation and benefits package. Examples include work flexibility, experience bonuses, and even additional time off.
24. Smart Recruitment
Smart recruitment is an updated, improved version of recruitment, better adapted to today. We live in an intelligent, AI-enabled world, and recruitment processes must mimic this environment. From software for screening applicants and AI work companions for onboarding, tech has reshaped the way recruiting is done. Are you keeping up with it?
25. Team Building Activities and Social Events
Sometimes, video calls, online games, movies and virtual social events are our only means of entertainment. Promote this culture in your workplace to connect better: you could try hosting online games and team-building activities for employees every Friday evening, for example. And make sure to invite everyone!
26. Grouping Based on Interests
How do you stay in touch with your colleagues when you work from home? A simple but effective way would be to set up group chats based on interests. Let employees talk about their favorite topics with like-minded people. Yes, this totally counts as team-building!
27. Create Productivity Zones
Productivity zones and quiet spaces help employees think and get things done. They provide space to stretch out and focus on work, while keeping friends and colleagues nearby for a quick brainstorm. This is an easy, cost-effective way to show employees that you’re giving them the space they need on-site.
28. Build More Collaboration Spaces
While productivity zones offer peace and quiet, collaboration spaces provide opportunities for employees to meet, socialize and share ideas. Make sure you equip these spaces with tools like whiteboards, post-it notes, markers, pens, and remote conferencing tools to support ideation and collaboration.
29. Optimize Your Space for Mental Health and Wellness
Ensuring the safety and health of your employees in the workplace is absolutely essential. But mental health is important, too. Why not incorporate "five minutes of play" at the beginning of team meetings in the form of a bonding exercise or interactive game, to encourage deeper relationships and better collaboration?
30. Make Workplace Connection a Ritual
As spontaneous moments of human connection in the workplace become more difficult to achieve in a remote or hybrid environment… we need to create more of them! Vulnerable sharing and storytelling inspire curiosity and compassion and foster belonging. When was the last time you had a chat with your colleagues that wasn’t about work?
Overcoming Challenges in Employee Connectivity
To cultivate a thriving interconnected work model, we must navigate several roadblocks that hamper effective connections in the workplace.
Addressing Resistance to Change and Lack of Engagement
A critical issue within most workplaces is employees resisting change and showcasing lukewarm engagement toward innovative initiatives. So, how can one successfully manage this inertia?
- Involve everyone: It's essential everyone, from leadership to frontline personnel, is actively involved in strategizing for changes.
- Frequent communications: Be ready with answers beforehand because employees naturally have queries regarding new implementations.
- Celebrate Progress: Recognize the efforts of those embracing reforms positively and encourage others through their stories.
As leaders connect with employees more intentionally on such collaborative reforms, resistance gradually dissipates, improving overall involvement.
Managing Cultural Differences in a Diverse Workplace
Diversity presents unique challenges when trying to establish team member connections. Here are some steps:
- Promote Inclusionary Practices: Equity should be foundational within a company's DNA. Ensure all voices are heard by setting up diverse panels during decision-making processes.
- Provide Cultural Awareness Training: Better understanding leads to better engagements.
- Create Open Communication Channels: Foster safe platforms where individuals can freely discuss matters about diversity.
Tackling cultural differences fosters respect among employees and betters the workforce climate, which is essential for a connected workplace.
Overcoming Communication Barriers
Good communication acts as a vital link for achieving workforce connections. If conversations are unclear or lost in transition, miscommunication creeps in, leading to disconnect. Here's how you can navigate:
- Implement Effective Communication Tools: Technologies like Slack or MS Teams ensure a smooth flow of shared responsibilities while managing information overload.
- Promote Active Listening: Encourage employees to participate during meetings or dialogues actively.
- Ensure Equal Opportunity To Speak: This would help all viewpoints feel valuable, ultimately securing better connections between team members.
By addressing these obstacles proactively, you pave the way toward establishing a healthier work environment that optimizes productivity via genuine employee commitment.
Measuring the Success of Employee Connection Efforts
When you're connecting with employees to cultivate a connected workplace, you must gauge the effectiveness of your efforts. This is done by measuring vital parameters linked to engagement and connectivity among team members.
Key Metrics to Track Employee Connectivity
A wide array of key metrics can be leveraged when assessing whether efforts toward fostering a connected workplace are hitting their targets. Let me share this wisdom with you:
- Engagement: An engaged employee is often an indicator of a healthy connection in a working environment. Annual surveys or real-time pulse checks can provide reliable data on employee engagement levels.
- Productivity Patterns: In many cases, high productivity aligns with effective workplace connections. Keep tabs on individual and team performance indicators.
- Absence Frequency and Turnover Rates: Frequent absence or high turnover might suggest issues with connection in your workplace.
- Collaboration: Measure the frequency, quality, and outcome of collaborative projects within teams because they offer insights into how well-connected your workforce is.
Note that these metrics shouldn't only reflect numerical values - no one should reduce people to mere statistics! It's essential to interpret these numbers accurately and incorporate qualitative measures whenever possible.
Surveying Employees for Feedback on Connection Initiatives
While discussing qualitative measures, let's dive into another highly impactful tool at your disposal — employee feedback.
Anonymous employee surveys are gold mines for understanding perceptions around current initiatives designed for improving connection in the workplace. These surveys may cover various topics - thinking about comfort level with colleagues, perceived support from management, or awareness about company objectives.
Remember, it's not just about gathering feedback. You have to use that information! If trends show dissatisfaction areas or bottlenecks hampering successful connection outcomes, start addressing those concerns promptly.
Moreover, creating an open dialogue where everyone feels they can be honest is a significant step toward fostering a connected team. Use the survey results as a reference point in the company's communication, demonstrating that you value employee insights and are making strides based on their responses; this promotes trust and furthers the cause of creating improved connection workplace environments.
To sum it up – measuring connectivity efforts isn't simply about checking numbers off a list. It's an ongoing process requiring careful attention to both quantitative and qualitative data. Implementing surveys, digesting feedback, addressing concerns promptly, and keeping an open line of communication all contribute to nurturing well-connected teams essential to your business.