People are back at work. Workplace traffic is up 300% since the start of the pandemic, and that figure is only expected to increase. But how often should employees go in? And as part of what work policy? Newsfeeds continue to highlight organizations that are changing their work approach. Whether that’s returning to the office full-time, simple updates to their previous hybrid policy, or going 100% remote.
And as companies fine-tune their hybrid work model and continue to evaluate safety, financial, and performance factors, one thing is clear: employees want to feel connected with one another. How will hybrid work change peoples’ relationships with coworkers? What will a workplace community look like when folks sit across different time zones, locations, and home offices?
In this post, we’ll explore how people can build relationships at work again. Including how to build a hybrid workplace community that thrives with the right tools, processes, and mindset.
People want to connect at work–especially with their favorite coworkers
According to a recent survey, 91% of employees agree that the office plays a crucial role in feeling connected with their coworkers. This connection also serves as the main driver for people to come back onsite. In a 2022 survey, impromptu social interactions (48%) and in-person collaboration (42%) topped the list of what excites employees about going back into the workplace.
But there’s also another layer of detail to explore. While connection is what folks want to get out of the office, it’s socializing with their favorite coworkers that’s important to them. According to The New York Times, people will naturally develop close relationships with others at work. Some even find their best friends at work–and those that do have lower stress and up to seven times higher job satisfaction.
The number of companies using workplace groups has grown 330% since launch
The rise of favorite coworkers means that there’s a large appetite for different workplace features that support these relationships. For example, employees that leverage Envoy’s employee favoriting feature average more than four favorited coworkers. This feature allows employees to select who they regularly work with or interact with. They can pull up which days those coworkers will be on-site, and even where they are sitting.
Adoption of another new Envoy feature called workplace groups is also on the rise. Workplace groups allow employees to schedule in-person collaboration with themed groups of coworkers. That might be your favorite lunch buddies, the folks on your team, or your book club members. The number of companies using workplace groups has grown 330% since launching.
It’s important to understand that getting one additional employee into the office isn’t just one more relationship in the workplace. Following Metcalfe’s Law, each additional employee in the office sparks multiple new workplace relationships. For example, if your company has 300 employees, the 301st person in the office creates 44,850 new opportunities for connection.
A workplace community needs tools to thrive
Rebuilding a workplace community takes time, patience, and, of course, people. But to make it all work together, it also needs the right tools. A workplace that supports hybrid work must extend beyond the essential communication platforms like Slack or Zoom. Instead, companies must leverage tools that nurture existing employee relationships and enable in-person scheduling.
Envoy’s Protect product allows employees to schedule their visits to the office to coincide with those of their closest colleagues. This has paid off big engagement dividends for companies leveraging these features. Since May 2022, companies that are active on our employee favoriting feature have averaged 8x the volume of employee entries compared to those that aren’t.
Tools help align schedules and bring folks together. Empowering employees to build a community on their own terms, without having to jump through burdensome group message hoops, will help improve their workplace experience significantly.
3 tips for employees to build workplace relationships
A workplace community drives a strong sense of belonging and purpose towards a shared goal. It is made up of the connection between everyone in the organization, including employees, workplace leaders, and visitors. And while many look forward to returning to the office to socialize with their friends, it can still be a tricky environment to navigate–especially with the changing conditions of hybrid work.
Here are some tips to empower your employees to create better relationships at work.
Leverage tools to schedule onsite days with coworkers
Using Slack or email to check up on what days your coworkers willl be onsite feels annoying and inefficient. With today’s tools, it’s easy to get visibility on who’s in and when. Providing these tools to your employees will help them plan ahead and coordinate their schedules with those of their team or coworkers. It’ll also help you plan in-person team meetings or events ahead of time. Bonus points for trying out Envoy Protect!
Intentionally build in social time at work
Leaders of hybrid teams should prioritize a regular cadence of remote-friendly meetings,. They should also organize other activities for their hybrid teammates to encourage relationship building. In-person happy hours and team lunches are great, but be sure to balance those with an equal number of remote-first activities. Get creative and curious! A quick google search for an online escape room yields dozens of attractive results.
Build your mindfulness muscle
Mindfulness practices have a proven effect on reducing stress levels. This boomed in popularity during the pandemic, but it is also an advantageous measure to take as people return to work. People team’s should strongly consider adding mindfulness apps such as Headspace or Calm to their roster of employee benefits. Employees can find a group of meditators and set up a virtual or in-person recurring meditation practice with their colleagues, helping to build those individual relationships and workplace community.
A workplace community informs meaning and motivation for people. Feeling recognized and cared for by others drives our sense of connection and belongingness. This ultimately leads to a happier, more engaged workforce that will want to be onsite.
Looking to rebuild your workplace community? Try a free trial of Envoy Protect and check out our workplace groups feature today.