Social Connectivity Vs Productivity
“I’m so much more productive working from home!”
Empty Office or Empty Culture? The Struggle of The Introvert.
Productivity and social connection at work are two important factors for workplace success. With varying personality types and natural tendencies, how can we optimise our ability to manage these factors?
With the uptake in flexible working arrangements such as working from home, and the uprise in technology making meetings by distance possible, face-to-face social connections can be more difficult to come by. This flexibility increases productivity, but there is still a need for face-to-face, social connection to promote positive wellbeing and culture at work. Where do we draw the line and balance productivity with social connection to promote an optimum working environment?
“I’m here to work. Not to make friends”. For some, office chit-chat may be frustrating, distracting, and seemingly unproductive. However, there are several reasons to socialise, as socialising can be productive in itself.
Humans need connection and belonging to thrive. Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs models how Love and Belonging are important intrinsic motivators, meaning that employees are motivated for more internally meaningful reasons than external and monetary rewards.
Friends make people happy. Creating work friendships has shown to increase feelings of happiness and reduce stress.
Evidence shows that the productivity of a worker can depend on the productivity of co-workers in the same workplace, even if they are carrying out independent tasks. Introverts should note that social interaction can lead to productivity spillover through peer pressure and knowledge sharing. This spillover can only occur if employees are working in close proximity, not from home.
Health. Strong social support reduces the risk of many health issues such as depression, high blood pressure and obesity. Face-to-face social connections also promote a healthy, balanced gut, which has strong links with emotional wellbeing. A correlation was found between individuals with close social relationships and richer gut microbiota composition. You can read more about the importance of a healthy gut in our blog post here.
WHAT ABOUT WHEN SOCIAL INTERACTION BECOMES COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE?
Advocating for those valuing productivity, face-to-face socialising was reported as the most frequent ‘time-wasting’ activity at work. Based on a survey of candidates on Seek, when asked how they spend wasted time at work, 48% of participants reported talking with colleagues face-to-face, followed by using social media (39%) and cleaning their workspace (30%).
The benefits of independent work and flexible working arrangements certainly still stands in light of the benefits of social connection. At Testgrid, we encourage flexible working arrangements, and with staff members juggling another job at home (parenting!), working from home is beneficial for work-life balance. However, we keep designated office days and social events to maintain social connections. It is recommended to monitor and balance time spent in and out of the office, and employees who prefer the productivity of working alone should invest energy in connecting with colleagues, being intentional about office relationships at certain times.
HOW TO BALANCE PRODUCTIVITY WITH SOCIAL CONNECTION:
Don’t annoy the introverts! And introverts, take out your headphones every now and then!
Although it’s optimum to be flexible with interruptions at your desk, such adaptability doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Having a designated social area, or shared meals can provide a break where social connection can foster without interrupting the colleagues deep in work. Remember to consider your surroundings with ad-hoc meetings! However, if you’re often tied to your desk, it’s important to consider how you may be perceived by your colleagues, and whether you’re letting a productivity mindset prevent you from creating social connections. This doesn’t mean you have to become best friends with your colleagues, but it is beneficial to foster a workplace culture of belonging, trust, and mutual respect.
The Big 5 personality traits of Openness and Extraversion lend themselves to flexible attitudes towards social connection in the office, while the trait of Conscientiousness links with productivity, discipline, and perseverance. Do you sometimes find office chit-chat pointless and wish everyone would get on with their work? Or do you enjoy socialising so much that you get distracted? Identifying these tendencies with our range of behavioural assessments can help us to self-manage in the workplace, and learn to behave in an optimum manner, balancing social connection with productivity. Similarly, in a recruitment context, identifying these traits can help predict how a candidate may behave at work, and what areas they may need to develop to perform effectively in the role.