Working remotely usually involves working from home (as opposed to a remote office or co-working space). Humans are social creatures and working away from our colleagues can unsurprisingly create a sense of loneliness. The loss of small, previously unnoticed stimuli such as a nearby conversation or the sound of the cappuccino machine can add to the feeling of social isolation that remote workers often report.
Our in-office relationships are an integral part of our daily lives and serve as stones that form the wall of order and predictability that we all seek. It's comforting to see, hear, and most all interact with our friends and coworkers in person. The small talk and idle chatter are sorely missed when suddenly removed from our lives.
Whether we care to admit it or not, we are all part of a community (even the rebels among us). Our minds are hardwired to seek community membership and our sense of well-being is elevated when we feel social inclusion. The defining community in many peoples' lives is the one at their workplace as we spend most of our waking hours there.
A creeping anxiousness fills us when we become isolated from our group. When working remotely, not only are we physically isolated from one another but we also become separated from our community at large. Like an electrical component removed from a battery, we feel disconnected from some unseen energy source.
A company's culture is the byproduct of its mission, work processes, history, and the human personalities that comprise its employee base. Companies promote a specific work culture that best allows them to achieve their objectives. The culture of a bank will be necessarily different from that of a surfboard manufacturer as they both have different and distinct reasons for being.
Company culture permeates through the corridors and conference rooms of the organization's office space. Culture has traditionally been a byproduct of physical proximity. With the advent and increase of remote work, company culture is seen as suffering, decaying, or disappearing altogether. The absence of culture impedes the esprit de corps that provides energy for the company to make a meaningful impact in the marketplace.
Mitigating Social Isolation
Social intranets are online collaboration portals with features aimed at promoting human interaction. Established social media platform characteristics are weaved into the design of social intranets which makes them less cold and mechanical. The emphasis on intuitive usability reduces the feeling of separation between colleagues who are not at the same physical location.
Social intranets allow remote workers to access company material and communicate from their computers. A thoughtful social intranet will also have features that lessen the impact of the isolating effect of remote work. Some of these features are described below:
An Event Planner
Online doesn't have to mean non-existent. An event planning tool provides the ability to schedule outings with your colleagues, even if the activity itself occurs online (such as a Happy Hour). Event planners should integrate with the calendar to make it easy to see how the outing fits into your schedule. We all need something to look forward to and event planners make it easy to save the date.
Free-form chats are where users can post their thoughts, ideas, pictures, and videos. Different threads for varying themes can be created for work or social topics. This classic and easy-to-use function keeps things lively while physically separated.
It's all too easy to feel completely disconnected from the outside world when working remotely. The same four walls serve as the boundaries of your place of work, leisure, and sleep. Instead of being resigned to living on a deserted island with no external contact, you can take advantage of custom news feeds to stay up to date on the latest happenings around your department, industry, or world at large.
One size does not always fit all. Your organization has a unique mission, is staffed by unique individuals, and has a unique culture as a result. A social intranet should give you the ability to custom tailor the form factor of your platform. This includes the power to use your company logo and color scheme. Promoting company culture shouldn't be limited to the constraints of physical proximity. Some social intranets will even allow your teams to set unique themes for their own spaces, which allows team identities to grow.
Some love it and some loathe it but remote work is here to stay. Working from home will inevitably present obstacles to the main engine of productivity: collaboration. Although these obstacles are unavoidable, their negative effects can be mitigated.
The Linchpin Intranet Suite boasts all the features needed to keep social interaction healthy while working from home. It's your truth source, collaboration hub, and communication portal all in one. You can even give Linchpin a test drive anytime you like!