So. Are y’all fed up with the work from home articles, the get-fit apps, the hard sell on home office equipment..? Ya. Me too. To be honest I’ve been struggling to know what to write, picking up and putting down my quill and ink way too many times because I may be a few things, but I’m not a cliché. I want to give you something to get your teeth into, not just another COVID-19 ra ra ra… there’s enough of that out there right under all our self-isolating noses.
So I’m digging down for something deep that I can keep light, and it struck me that amidst all this topsy-turvy weirdness that we are navigating as best we can, there is an angle that I’m interested in, I thought you might be too…
Why do we need human connection in the workplace?
By that, I don’t just mean knowing our peers are there for us, I don’t mean the planned collision spaces that we bump into our colleagues and talk about work, life, cocktails, (is that just me?).. I mean the deeper connection that we didn’t know that we were missing until it was snatched away from us a month or so ago..
I’ve recently been hearing people self-identify as ‘introverted extroverts’ and ‘extroverted introverts’ with varying degrees of acceptance on the experience of working in solitude at home. And then there’s those incredible humans who are juggling home-schooling and sharing the dining table with a partner whilst trying to get Some. Darn. Work. Done.
But what is it that we are missing?
Were we simply underestimating the effect that spending up to a third of our lives with a random selection of people who happen to occupy the same four walls as us, has on our internal happiness? Or is it deeper than that? Could it be the absence of that connection making us unhappy? Stay with me on this.
It’s well known that we each need human interaction on some level to, dare I say, validate, our existence. (OK, that may be a bit dramatic.) but we know we need the physical and emotional cues that come from face to face interactions. We’ve all experienced the misunderstanding of a text tone, of a poorly placed emoji, or too many exclamation marks!!!!
It forces overthinking, even in those who pretend it doesn’t. We second guess, and begin to build opinions and barriers that only serve to grow that discontent over time.
We aren’t wired to build relationships digitally *cue online-dater uproar*. Face to face interactions allow us to register facial responses (and react accordingly), they are necessarily more efficient and productive, which in turn leads to a sense of achievement, and the non verbal cues allow us to build an internal framework about how we connect with this specific person. A framework that means we get to shortcut all that analysis the next time we interact.
Alliant University of Psychology webpage, states: “Communicating face to face also builds trust and connection between employer and employee as well as between colleagues. This can foster goodwill and build that sense of teamwork that can transform an organization from surviving to thriving. There simply is no substitute for connecting on a human level”.
So, I’m leaving you with that. If the freedom to do your housework in between emails, or the fact you can have your ‘quarantini locktail’ at 2pm and no-one knows (or cares, because they’re doing it too) is getting a bit old, the fact that you’re not close enough to smell your colleagues probably has something to do with it. It’s called the Olfactory Code. It’s science. I love science.
Until next time, my friends, stay safe, and let’s make that curve a little less bendy so we can all get back to that happy, smelly, place… Adieu.