All together now!

The trends in the workplace all seem to be steering towards creating a more dispersed, solitary working environment.  Remote working and virtual teams are on the rise, we are becoming too busy for regular face-to-face meetings, ‘team building meetings’ can be seen as inefficient wastes of time and technology is replacing traditional interactions.  However, social interactions and environments at work are powerful motivators and as Walter Chen who writes for ‘iDone This’ Blog comments, ‘without them, we can get disengaged and feel like our work doesn’t matter.’ 

Creating social contexts in the workplace, whether this is for physical teams or remote teams, is vital.  As referenced in an article on HBR Blog, researchers Priyanka Carr and Gregory Walton looked into the different impacts of people feeling ‘psychologically together’ or ‘psychologically alone’ …

Each participant was placed in a separate room on their own; however, half of the participants, the ‘psychologically together’ group, were told that the research involved looking into how people work together on puzzles and that they and the other participants would work on a puzzle today.  The other half of participants, the ‘psychologically alone’ group, were given no mention of ‘together’ or the other participants.  So although every participant was physically alone, half of the participants were made to feel ‘psychologically together’.  Ready for some impressive results?  The ‘psychologically together’ participants worked for 48% longer and solved more problems correctly, with a better recall of what had been seen.  These participants found the work more interesting and felt less tired than those working ‘psychologically alone’.

This research provides clear support for why managers need to create a culture of ‘togetherness’.  This is increasingly important in teams which are becoming more remote or virtual and it is down to managers to make ‘togetherness’ not just a thoughtless buzzword, but to put in place a cohesive strategy through actions as well as words.  Place focus on ensuring the whole team does meet up at a suitable frequency, open communication channels to focus on collaborative decision-making, encourage team members to consult their peers for advice or opinion and make it a new priority to keep everyone updated as to what they are working on – this will also allow team recognition of achievements.  If this can be successfully executed, you will not only have a more productive workforce, but a satisfied workforce.

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