The Importance of Social Health at Work

By Olly Thomas

Social Health in the Workplace: Introduction and Statistics

In the last in this series we will be looking at how the social health of a company can effect the overall wellbeing of the organisation as well as the individual. This can take many forms and is a complex lattice of cultural norms which make up how a company comes together as a whole. Forming bonds with team mates is a primal instinct that we all desire as social creatures. Without this our general wellbeing suffers.

 

Problems and Solutions

Traditionally a co-located team forms social bonds through a shared experience within a shared location and time. These experiences along with mutual values form your culture. By defining your values early on and living by these in the day-to-day running of the organisation values can bring everyone together with a shared sense of purpose. This can effect everything from hiring to collaboration, from communication to conflict resolution.

As companies move to a distributed model of work the very essence of company culture is challenged. How can a company form a culture when they are physically separate? Many remote companies are answering these questions by successfully fostering cultures that are just has healthy as their on-site competitors. Using some out-of-the-box thinking and a healthy humanistic approach, companies can cultivate trust, empathy, friendship, respect and collaboration while rarely meeting in person.

There are numerous ways for companies to develop their culture, from 1-on-1 coffee chats with coworkers, to group townhall meetings, from socially sharing parts of their home life to facilitating ice breakers to really get to know your team mates. Creating those ‘watercooler moments’ is a key component to making a happy and fun workplace. It is shown that happy employees not only stick around longer but are far more productive and produce far more innovate ideas in the process.Off-site meetups can have huge impacts on long term team bonds. Make the effort to bring everyone together once or twice a year so that people can get to know each other face-to-face. Nothing can replace those moments and so it’s important to invest in them accordingly. Organisations should use shared values and creative ways for people to form special relationships to mold their unique culture, after all thats what makes work so rewarding.

Working at home alone all day can have huge benefits when it comes to productivity.The flexibility and autonomous nature of remote work means it’s ideal for fitting around your personal life, being able to be there for family, children or special events you might have missed out on. Being able to balance when and how you work opens up possibilities previous taken away by a daily commute and a fixed office with fixed hours. Aside from the obvious benefits, social isolation is a big challenge for many. In fact social isolation has been shown to be the second biggest struggle remote workers face in 2019. Employees face not interacting with another human for hours or even days at a time which can have a large impact on their social and mental wellbeing. ****But luckily by taking a few active steps you have the power to change this. With the rise of co-working spaces and laptop friendly cafes it allows people to get out of the home environment and into more social spaces. Being able to balance social work with focused work is the key to a holistic approach to social wellness in the workplace.

 

Conclusion

Social wellness is a tricky beast to tackle, there are no easy answers. A company needs to tread its own path while facilitating and investing in their culture and people. On an individual level there are pro-active approaches to combat isolation. Finding that balance with how and where that works best for you is key. Making the effort to be social will have positive impacts throughout the rest of your worklife. It can boost your productivity and keep you feeling like a happy and healthy human.

 

Actionable Checklist

  • Align your team around a shared set of values to work by in your day-to-day lives.
  • Proactively build your culture by facilitating daily opportunities to form those close human bonds between coworkers.
  • Think outside the box when bringing people together, especially when working as a distributed team.
  • Make time in your day to attend special events you would have otherwise miss in a usual 9-to-5 job. Make the most of your flexibility and autonomy.
  • If social isolation is effecting you be proactive and try working at a coworking space a few days a week.
  • Switch up your environment to keep it fresh. Work at a coffee shop for a few hours or go round to a friends house who also works from home.
 

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