The shift to remote work certainly changed the way organizations operate and serve their customers, but what about its impact on how employees interact with each other at work? Gathering around the water cooler has long been an integral part of the office culture, a chance for employees to bond with their colleagues about non-work-related topics. But today, socializing at work looks very different.
Unfortunately, work-from-home (WFH) culture is exacerbating existing problems — like burnout and isolation. A recent report revealed that millennials, who make up the largest segment of the workforce, are the loneliest generation. Not only that, but more people are living alone. Single-person households are the second most common type of U.S. household, which makes working from home that much more isolating.
So, with people no longer working in the same place, organizations have had to find new and innovative ways to bring them together. Organizations that prioritize social engagement activities can help their employees navigate the new remote workplace and ensure that productivity and collaboration don’t suffer.
Leveraging the intranet for socializing
Before offices went virtual, one of the most healthful benefits of work was that it allowed us to establish and build friendships. When the opportunities for social engagement and interaction decrease, so can productivity. One study found that workplace isolation can reduce productivity by up to 21 percent.
Fortunately, there are digital workplace solutions that are designed to mitigate these issues. The company intranet, for example, has emerged as a mission-critical tool for everything from crisis communications to employee engagement, and can be leveraged — even in a WFH culture — to give people the social interaction they need.
In fact, improving communication and collaboration through social technologies can raise the productivity of workers by up to 25 percent. Within organizations, business units scoring in the top half on employee engagement more than double their odds of success compared with those in the bottom half.
Creating social connections in a virtual world
There are many ways organizations can use their intranet to help form social connections. For one, you can use it to gather input about how employees are feeling and gauge interest in organized social activities. Because these types of activities can only be successful if employees are actively participating.
Then, consider launching a campaign to generate excitement about social engagement initiatives and use your intranet as a promotional tool to get people involved. You can publish announcements on the blog, add special events to a social calendar, or create communities of interest to gather like-minded people.
Engaging employees through a social center
A social center is a dedicated online area where employees are free to discuss non-work related activities — like the news, sports, or pop culture. It’s like a virtual water cooler where people can connect with each other on a personal level throughout the day.
One of Igloo’s customers, Kraus-Anderson, relies heavily on their social center, called Club Haus, now that they’ve permanently moved to a remote workforce. It’s a place for employees to find common ground with their colleagues and enjoy getting to know each other in a non-work virtual environment. One employee even started sharing their “diary of a work from home cat,” which quickly became one of Club Haus’ most popular features!
Evaluate your intranet’s social features
Consider your current intranet. Does it have the capabilities you need to achieve the level of social engagement you’re after? If not, how will you prioritize this critical component of today’s employee experience?
As long as employees are working from home, organizations need to go the extra mile to create a culture of togetherness and teamwork. Not only will it benefit the mental health and well-being of your employees, but it will foster an environment of productivity and collaboration even during these unprecedented times.
Learn more about how to increase social engagement using your intranet. Book a demo today.