When workers feel disconnected, productivity suffers

A lot changed in 2020 but one that didn’t is that managing workers across buildings, cities, countries, home offices, is hard. As a business grows and spreads out, often the corporate culture stays at headquarters and everyone who isn’t there is working in second-best conditions. They’ll feel disconnected from the corporate culture; they miss the casual conversation of the workplace. When you work with people from different offices there’s a sense of that loss too. The same is true for those people now working from home. One solution was to bring everyone back into the office but increasingly workers are expecting that work from home is part of the equation. This means that keeping the corporate culture is a job everyone has to do, not just big businesses with a world-wide footprint. Essentially is all comes down to good HR.

Too much self-reliance and un-equal technology resources are the top things that make people not in the main office feel less-than. A survey was done in 2020, when people had been working from home for a while. The authors, Acheivers.com, showed that 33% of workers felt disconnected from the corporate culture, 31% felt more connected and 36% said no change. Of the disconnected workers men felt a much more significant loss of connectedness from the corporation.

I hope I don’t offend the male readers by saying that I’m not surprised that they feel it more acutely. In the pre-pandemic times, you could see men gathering in any spaces that were set up for small gatherings. My own local coffee shop had a loyal group of elderly men that came in daily for group chit-chat and the boat club I belong to also has a group of men that meet in the early morning for coffee in the clubhouse; even the local auto-parts store as a few stools where there are always a group of men gathered. Not having a place to gather hurts men more than women.

But what of your employees? Lest you think that it’s older workers having trouble utilizing the technology that might keep them connected, there’s this bit of evidence to consider. Here’s the breakdown of people feeling disconnected by generation: Generation Z aged between 18 and 24 (40 percent). The Millennial generation (25 to 34) and Generation X (35 to 54) feel similarly disconnected at 35 percent and 34 percent, respectively. The group which felt the least disconnect throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been the Baby Boomer generation aged 55 and above, although the results still suggest a significant disconnect at 25 percent.

People who feel disconnected don’t produce as much for their employer. If they feel like islands then they act like one, rather than acting in a conforming manner that represents the corporate well. These are two big problems. I’m sure that we’ve all seen or experienced this. When I had my first IT job, I was located at corporate headquarters but was responsible for IT at 6 offices located elsewhere in the State. As I visited those, the corporate culture fell off quickly the father away they were. There was no mechanism for keeping the culture.

Today we have technology to assist us in keeping all of our sometimes-far-flung offices or remote workers feeling like they are part of something larger and a valued member of the team. While it’s tempting to just bring everyone back into the office, we see that large corporations aren’t doing that, they are still almost entirely at home, expect to stay that way through 2021 and then expect to keep it going for 60-70% of workers with even those rotating from the office to home. A Bloomberg study found this information. It is likely then that small business if not, now, will end up emulating this model as they compete for workers. Which means your culture could take a hit if you don’t start addressing it now.

Enabling casual conversation is an important part of maintaining the corporate culture. At our last roundtable the conversation veered strongly into Microsoft Teams. This time we’re hoping to broaden that.

So, what works in keeping the corporate culture together? On Friday we’re going to discuss just that. We’re hosting our second roundtable discussion at 9am. Please plan to attend. Bring your successes; bring your challenges.

These roundtables are modeled after mastermind groups. They are small, on-topic, organized peer discussions. Here’s how it works: 1-minute introductions, 10-minute presentation, 5-minute presentation by two success stories, 2-minute round the table where member express challenges they have and their peers offer suggestions. The time is scheduled for 1 hour and we will stay tight to it.

One of our speakers will be one of our own – Boski. After being hired into a fully remote corporation at the height of the pandemic, Harbor had to take on the challenge of how to integrate someone we can’t see in person and make them feel at home and like a part of Harbor. She tells me that we succeeded; she’s knows that she’s part of Harbor. In a previous job, Boski also worked remote and she tells us she never felt like part of anything. She’ll share with us both of these contrasting experiences.

Here’s what people said about the first peer roundtable: “I got a lot more out of this than I expected to” “Really enjoyed today’s meeting. I hope you do more of them.” “Thanks for inviting me the suggestions were really helpful.”

Please download the meeting invitation. Open it. Then accept. This meeting is Friday at 9am. Hope to see you there.

About Harbor Computer Services

Harbor Computer Services is an IT firm servicing Southeastern Michigan. We work exclusively under contract with our clients to provide technology direction and either become the IT department or provide assistance to the internal IT they already have. We have won many awards for our work over the years, including the worldwide Microsoft Partner of the Year in 2010. Most recently we were recognized as one of the top MSP’s in the nation by ChannelFutures coming in at #40 nationwide. And in 2016 as the top Michigan IT firm for Manufacturing. There are a few simple things that make Harbor Computer Services the best choice for your business. •We are Professionals •We are Responsible •We care about your business

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