With today’s workforce comprising of some 43% of workers that say they work from home at least sometimes, effective communication is becoming a pressing issue. The effects of the lack of human interaction create significant impacts on an organization’s employees. Even though communication is hard to quantify and see its direct effect on the bottom line it must still be heavily considered when making changes to company policy. How are different companies implementing employee communication strategies?
We had the pleasure of hosting multiple people from a variety of fields to answer some questions about their take on how humans will interact in the future of work.
- Caroline Wheeler, President of Talent Catalyst
- Aaron Lifshin, CEO/Founder of MeetingPulse
- Lisa Paredes, Brand & Community Manager at Beaconforce
- Caroline Quick, Principal of T3 Advisors
- Alex Furman, Culture & People Analytics at Invitae
- Sergey Patsko, Engagement Leader at General Electric Digital
During the event, our panelists discussed many aspects of the human interaction sphere. The panel talked about how physical spaces affect collaboration and how this will change with remote work. They also examined how we can break down silos to increase cross-departmental collaboration.
Caroline was asked, “How to increase team effectiveness in a multigenerational environment?” The way in which Talent Catalyst and Caroline have dealt with this issue is by focusing on career development and creating a safe psychological environment where people can collaborate and help each other. In this type of environment, it is also important to create teams that motivate themselves and also an environment in which each member adds value to the group. They also took an interesting approach to a generational gap which many companies face nowadays, and made a program in which the millennial employees mentor the older employees rather than the other way round. This then fosters a collaborative environment as the younger people can teach the older generation something and vice versa.
For the event itself, we used Aaron’s platform, MeetingPulse to accomplish multiple things from a raffle to posting questions for the speakers which the attendees were then able to vote on so that the questions people wanted most would be asked. Aaron was asked “How new technology can improve human collaboration for startups and corporations” He outlined the fact that the only way in which this will be possible is that there is buy-in to these new technologies from the top of the organization. For example, about 75% of employees have access to remote working software. This needs to be utilized in order for interaction to increase.
Caroline from T3 Advisors was asked, “How can physical spaces increase human connection in the workplace and how will this change with remote working?” As an expert in workspaces and how they affect the interaction between people who do not necessarily have access to each other otherwise, she had deep insight into solving the communications gap remote work creates. She talked about the research she did with her team in deciding how many people around one table are optimal to create communication and break down departmental barriers. That was only a part of her answer that dealt with encouraging spontaneous conversation between people highlighting the importance of in-person, human communication. In terms of dealing with people who work remotely and that do not necessarily have an office to meet others, her advice was to make sure that communications technologies are in order to maintain collaboration as much as possible.
Alex who came from a large company that recently went public was faced with many communication issues within the company. That is why the question he was asked “how do you facilitate meaningful cross-collaboration in the workplace to motivate people?” fit perfectly. His insight on solving this was useful for people in companies that aspire to grow quickly and those which are currently growing. He highlighted his creation of a performance and talent management initiatives within his company which created tremendous benefits for their employees. He suggested to break down silos within organizations early in the growth stage as it would benefit you in the long run. These silos may later cause troubles such as cross-departmental information sharing being decreased. The use of technology is of utmost importance in these instances. If you do not do those things, you will miss out on the benefits of the innovation that cross-functional teams create.
Sergey, coming from a data scientist background had a very unique take on the importance of human collaboration. His question, “How to engage data scientists in team dynamics to increase human connection?” He highlighted that data scientists are basically the stereotype of millennials, where they do not care so much about titles of people, creating a flat hierarchy of power to increase their collaboration. The importance they place on people is in their abilities and skills rather than titles and positions in the company. For data scientists, there is a larger importance in the access to information and data and to motivate them rather than make efforts to increase collaboration as it is already in place.
After the speakers shared their incredible insights we hosted an activity. In this activity, we used the Beaconforce framework as a point of reference for these discussions. The attendees were then separated into different groups led by our speakers to come up with a solution to the issue at hand:
After thorough deliberation, the teams came back to share their solutions to the problem presented. The solutions presented were amazingly thought out, and ranged from informal meetup sessions once a week or month to talk about all things not work to monthly retreats. The solutions were as follows:
- Gathering anonymous information in the form on questionnaires to get an idea of the issues team members face
- Putting people who are not generally working together or with the same skill sets in the same team to achieve collective goals
- Have sharing sessions where team members talk about what their short term and long term plans are to promote team chemistry and align each other goals together
- Host workshops in which people develop skills they do not have by learning from others that do to increase the overall level of the team and increase team chemistry
Written by: Adam Fuchs, Communications Associate