In a recent Forbes article “10 Workplace Trends You’ll See In 2018,” Dan Schawbel breaks down 10 workplace trends we can expect to see or experience in the coming year. The whole thing is worth the read, but it’s his No. 1 that really got my attention: “Leaders encourage more human interaction.”
This one is especially important for leaders of virtual or remote employees, when interactions are often relegated to email or online collaboration tools, and in-person communication is rare. Here are some illuminating tidbits from the piece:
- Bumping into one another builds relationships and boosts creativity. Companies, such as Google, Apple and IBM are designing their work environments to encourage employees to mingle throughout the day. Why? All three companies found that causal interactions among employees improve innovation and teamwork.
- Conversation raises performance. A study found that employees who had an opportunity for 15 minutes to chat and socialize with coworkers experienced a 20% increase in performance.
- Electronic communication can’t beat face-time. Researchers Mahdi Roghanizad and Vanessa K. Bohns found that a face-to-face conversation is 34 times more successful than an email.
- Your youngest workers prefer in-person communication. Ranstad and Forbes found that despite a perceived addiction to technology, Gen Zs and Millennials choose in-person conversations over using technology.
So what does all that mean to you? It certainly doesn’t mean you should put an end to telecommuting or remote working. After all, in the U.S., we’re facing a pretty dire shortage of skilled workers. Companies large and small are struggling to find skilled (and in some cases unskilled) workers to fill critical roles. When you offer remote working options, you dramatically increase your talent pool, and that helps to ensure you find the right person (with the right skills and knowledge) for the job.
What you can do is rely much less on email, texting and other forms of electronic communication, and spend more time on the phone and in video conferences. Beyond that, make room in the budget to bring remote employees into the office, at least quarterly, but more often if you can swing it. The key to success is not to necessarily change your team; just how you communicate with team members.
We want to hear your stories! What steps have you or will you take to boost conversation, collaboration and teamwork on your team? Please share your tips in the comments section.