We’re now living in a world where remote work and hybrid workplaces are no longer a novelty. In fact, we can safely say that they’re the norm. A July 2023 WFH Research report shows that a whopping 30% of employees are working hybrid, while just over 10% are working fully remotely. And Forbes predicts that 32.6 million Americans will work remotely by 2025.
With almost half the workforce working offsite in some capacity, you’ve probably heard the words “connected workplace” floating around the virtual watercooler.
And with good reason. Connection is important now more than ever, especially for remote companies with a distributed workforce. Why, you ask?
Remote employees often struggle with feeling disconnected from their coworkers and company goals. Disengagement is another prominent challenge, and it’s higher than it’s ever been. In one 2022 Conference Board workforce survey, 30% of remote employees experienced a decrease in work engagement over a six-month period, and 36% felt a decreased sense of belonging.
Connected workplaces are the solution to these challenges. They help foster a sense of community, collaboration, and appreciation without needing to be in the same room.
But what does workplace connection really mean? Is it just about all the cool tech, or is there more to it?
If you’re a leader aiming to create a sense of unity, engagement, and collaboration within a dispersed team, this article is your go-to guide. Read on to learn about the connected workplace, why it’s important, and how you can build one.
What is a connected workplace?
The connected workplace is more than just an industry buzzword. It’s the real deal, and it’s shaking up the way we work.
So what is it? Put simply, a connected workplace is a place where all elements of the workplace come together to foster a sense of unity and engagement among employees. Those elements include:
- Workplace design
- Human resources (HR) systems
- Leadership practices
It integrates technologies to create a cohesive space where employees can communicate, collaborate, and perform tasks efficiently. And it goes beyond the tangible, creating a dynamic company culture that gives employees vital opportunities to foster relationships.
3 key elements of a connected workplace
Building connections in the workplace comprises three key elements: automation, software solutions, and a human-centric approach.
First, let’s talk about workplace automation. While it may seem so at times, AI solutions aren’t taking over the world. But they are taking over those tedious tasks that make you want to pull your hair out. And they’re improving them significantly.
Real-time chats with remote colleagues? Check.
Zoom meetings without the awkward frozen screens and, “Can you hear me now?” moments? Double check.
Document sharing and auto-signing with just a few clicks? Yes, please.
Automation makes work feel less like, well, work. It helps your team stay engaged and work together like a well-oiled machine. They also get all the tools and support they need to stay connected and productive.
The connected workplace also emphasizes the importance of employee engagement, openness, and efficiency. Productivity software solutions like Slack, Zoom, Google Docs, and Dropbox let you and your employees work together seamlessly. You don’t have to worry about delays and miscommunication due to incompatibility.
Other software examples include:
- Project management software
- Simplified centralized databases
- Mobile apps for a deskless workforce
Integrating these solutions lets you access information quickly and streamlines processes across the entire workforce.
An employee-centric focus
As useful as they may be, gadgets and programs aren’t what make a connected workplace. Your people should be at the heart of everything you do.
You have to create an environment where everyone feels like they’re part of the team, even if they’re working from their kitchen table. And most importantly, you need to build a work culture that puts human connection in the workplace front and center.
When combined, these three elements allow you to beat the challenges of the remote workplace. You can build a happier, healthier, and more productive work culture that propels your organization toward success.
The benefits of a connected workplace
Building a connected workplace can represent a significant investment in technology, time, and human resources. So, why is connection important in the workplace, and why should you invest in it?
It brings numerous benefits, including:
- Enhanced collaboration: When employees feel connected, they’re more likely to share ideas, provide feedback, and work together toward common goals. This leads to a more innovative and productive work environment.
- Better internal communication: A connected workplace gets rid of all those pesky cc’d email marathons and group meetings that could’ve been emails. Instead, your team uses communication software like Slack to speak with each other seamlessly in real time.
- Increased efficiency: Integrated software solutions create a well-organized workflow, making processes more efficient and streamlined. So your employees work smarter, not harder. And they get more done in less time, which is a win-win for everyone.
- Improved employee engagement: Employees are more likely to be invested in their work when they feel connected to their coworkers and your company’s mission. Workplace connection leads to improved team morale, higher job satisfaction, lower turnover rates, and a more vibrant workplace culture. No more quiet quitting in your office!
- Stronger team relationships: Making connections in the workplace allows your team to build strong relationships and grow personally. It’s not just about the big things—it’s the small talk, the virtual high-fives, and the “How was your weekend?” chats that build strong relationships. That’s why you’ve got to give your team the right tools, like Icebreakers by Airspeed, to facilitate these interactions. They’re vital to foster closeness, trust, empathy, and understanding. And connected teams are cohesive teams that can navigate challenges together and celebrate successes.
These benefits highlight the importance of connection in the workplace, demonstrating how it’s a practical approach to building a thriving, engaged, and productive workforce. It allows the intangible nature of work culture to translate into tangible solutions for modern work challenges.
How to improve connection in the workplace
Now that you know what a connected workplace is and the benefits it brings, the only question left is how to build connection in the workplace. We’ve got a few surprisingly simple methods that you can implement immediately to get the ball rolling.
1. Welcome new hires warmly
Wondering how to make employees feel connected from day one? It all starts with a warm welcome. Keep it simple by:
- Introducing new hires to the team in Slack using software like Intros by Airspeed
- Providing them with the resources they need for success
- Setting up some fun events so they can participate in team activities
They’ll immediately be impressed by your positive work environment and eager to start making connections in the workplace.
2. Celebrate milestones together
You can make your team feel closer than ever by celebrating milestones together, such as:
- Work anniversaries
Using Slack apps for virtual cards and shoutouts makes it easy to celebrate milestones and achievements. And setting up virtual team gatherings can make these celebrations even more memorable while building a sense of community.
3. Build virtual connections
Use software like Airspeed’s Coffee Talk and Icebreakers apps to schedule virtual coffee chats and automate icebreakers for team meetings. Providing casual spaces where employees can talk about hobbies or TV shows can foster a sense of community.
Unlock the power of connection in the workplace with Airspeed
The connected workplace is the workplace of the future, and it’s here to stay. When you prioritize building an inclusive, connective culture, you’ll see the benefits trickle throughout your entire organization.
Because at the end of the day, building connection in the workplace is about having the right technology that allows you to empower the amazing people who drive your success.
Install Airspeed’s Slack apps for free to unlock the power of the right technology and start building connections in your team.