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Date posted: 11th August 2022

11th August 2022

Is remote working eroding our sense of belonging?

Is remote working eroding our sense of belonging?

The debate around remote work rumbles on and continues to divide opinion.

Earlier this week, we reported Malcolm Gladwell’s impassioned take on the subject.

In an interview with Steve Bartlett, the Author and Podcaster expressed concern around remote work and its potential impact on the employee’s sense of belonging.

He said: “It’s very hard to feel necessary when you’re physically disconnected. As we face the battle that all organizations are facing now in getting people back into the office, it’s really hard to explain this core psychological truth, which is we want you to have a feeling of belonging and to feel necessary.”

And he is not alone in thinking this way. Many CEOs are now scrambling to get their workforce back behind a desk. But is it for the right reasons?

Do they share Gladwell’s view that a lack of in person connection is eroding their employees’ sense of belonging, and negatively impacting their wellbeing? Or are leaders relying on outdated assumptions around the value of a dispersed workforce?

Accenture Research

To find answers, Accenture surveyed on-site, hybrid and fully remote working employees to determine which of the three groups felt least connected – and the results are surprising.

Mamta Kapur, a research fellow with Accenture Research writes:

“People who work on-site, compared to those who work in hybrid or remote workplaces, feel the least connected of the three groups we studied — 42% of on-site workers say they feel “not connected” versus 36% hybrid and 22% fully remote”.

So, is an employee’s level of connection determined by organizational culture, or their working environment?

And what can leaders do to cultivate a stronger sense of belonging among their teams – regardless of location?

To answer these questions, and for more from Mamta Kumar, check out this article.

From the article:

Rethink space and place

To solve this, we need a new language and framework to capture the complexity of connection today, as it requires transcending location, time zones and different ways of working. We call this framework omni-connected experiences. It occurs when people are connected and feel a sense of pride in their work regardless of where the work takes place when people feel connected in a way that they freely share ideas, their individuality and move in the same direction as a team, and when people feel a sense of commitment and alignment to their organization’s purpose and values.

When people are connected to their work, they’re more inspired, and driven and they deliver their best work. They’re learning and growing in their roles and moving forward in their careers.

Unfortunately, too many conversations about organizational culture are still anchored to space and place. And many leaders don’t understand the lack of connection at work. Our research revealed that people believe leaders generally overestimate the connectedness of their people by 2X.  Only one in six people surveyed felt they were benefitting from an omni-connected experience at work.

Why culture and connection matter more than ever

The numbers bear it out. A culture of connection that’s fostered by omni-connected experiences produces major benefits for people and the business. We think it is critical for businesses to understand this because truly meaningful human relationships lead to truly meaningful growth for businesses. Omni-connected experiences that result in a heightened sense of personal—and measurable business—impact, thrive through vibrant, human relationships.

The opportunity that connection offers is significant. We found that when people feel highly connected to each other, their leaders and their work, their companies stand to gain a 7.4% revenue growth boost per year. Omni-connection also builds trust, with 29% of omni-connected workers saying they feel more likely to experience a deeper level of trust in their organization. Additionally, being omni-connected accounts for 59% of an employee’s intention to stay in their job, and over 90% of omni-connected people say they can be productive anywhere.

Where should CEOs start?

So now that the reasons for omni-connected experiences are clear, as are the benefits of delivering these experiences, we need to consider where we begin to meet people’s needs and unlock their potential at work. Given the importance of creating these experiences, business leaders need to know what steps they should be taking and cannot rely on approaches that have worked in the past.

Our research identifies the management behaviours leaders should not only start embracing, but also those they should stop demonstrating to create omni-connected experiences and lay the foundational norms that foster a culture of connection. The shift to embrace omni-connected experiences can feel overwhelming at first. But it’s about creating your organization’s unique roadmap to move from outdated cultural norms to people-centred, omni-connected work experiences.

Read the full article, here.

For more articles on Wellbeing, Culture, and Experience & Engagement be sure to visit the Inspiring Workplaces website.

And why not check out some of our on-demand videos from the Inspiring Workplaces Summer Series ’22.

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