How to make workplaces more social

By Hilmarie Hutchison, CEO of Matrix Public Relations

Who would have thought that ‘hybrid’ would be associated with the way we work? The global pandemic brought about mammoth changes across sectors compelling organizations to redefine business objectives and operations. However, what surprised the Human Resources sector was the ability to ramp up the quality of work and productivity under tight deadlines even as employees pitched in their work hours from home. With no commute time, better work-life balance, and more time on hand to pursue life goals, permanent ‘work-from-home’ has become a part of the work culture.

However, we’re only humans, and social connection is integral to our nature. There’s no derailing the back-to-office mode of operations as brands continue to pitch in efforts to bring back the buzz in office spaces. So, what makes human capital tick? A recent study conducted by Microsoft across 11 countries & 20,000 people revealed that 73% of employees needed better reasons to work from the office than just company expectations. The winning parameters aren’t pay hikes or incentives but the opportunity to see, mingle and converse with co-workers over coffee! Yes, brewing camaraderie in hallways and lounges is what employees seek.

Here are five ways how you can rebuild the social capital at workplaces:

Steer clear of pressure: Most often than not, employees are busy proving themselves productive by adhering to work timings and optimizing work hours spent in the office. Release the pressure of wanting the employees at their workstations or engaged in business-related conversations to build a responsible model of working. Trust is valuable and once the employees know that the management believes in their productivity minus the work hours pressure, it becomes a win-win situation. After all, we’ve all seen how employees have delivered more efficiently without being in the disciplined environment of an office. So, keep calm and believe that your workforce is your driving force!

Provide opportunities to re-connect: Employees look forward to more reasons than one to be in office. Apart from the reunion with work colleagues, it’s the platform that the organizations can provide to bounce back to ‘work from office’ normalcy. A lounge makeover, new flavours added to the coffee station, luncheons, offsite retreats, weekly celebrations, employee engagement programs, and even informal trainings are exciting ways to bring back the buzz in the office.

Hobby Lobby: The pandemic provided everyone ample time that otherwise eluded the ordinary. Apart from regular professional commitments, employees explored their interests in reading, playing musical instruments, and even painting and pottery. A Hobby Lobby can be an artistic platform that allows employees to unleash their creativity in office spaces. Who wouldn’t love to have their artwork adorning the walls of a place where they spend the most time after their homes? Or a musical jam session to usher in the weekend with colleagues just after work gets done? Such opportunities help the workforce bond, work better, and deliver their best.

Open communication: Keep an open line of communication and solicit frequent feedback on employees and their work processes. By wanting to know how they’re doing professionally and personally, you communicate that you care about their well-being. Let your employees know that mental and physical well-being is a priority and, take adequate steps whenever necessary. Employees don’t just need salaries and job security but tend to give more at workplaces for wholesome experiences.

Bring back personal interactions: In all honesty, we all have had enough virtual meetings, and it’s time to bring back the face-face element in office culture. Do arrange rendezvous sessions with employees for every possible opportunity of work processes. From the hiring, re-joining, appraisals, or simple protocols to check on employees, the social connection needs to be re-established to keep the office culture real and desirable.

Happier and healthier workplaces; that’s the magic of social connections. Go for it!