The importance of human touch

Insight

In a recent conversation about COVID-19, my friends and I agreed how much the pandemic has affected our working lives, especially workplace culture.

As recent graduates, we envisaged our first years would involve working with a bunch of new people, buying expensive coffees, talking about dinner and weekend plans and Friday night drinks - all things we took for granted as part of office life.

Then COVID-19 happened and things changed.

We’re fortunate to have the technology and infrastructure to keep working throughout the lockdowns. We’ve adapted to remote working and virtual meetings. But the change has affected us in different ways. Some people have met the change with open arms, while others feel disconnected from colleagues and team culture is also affected.

SenateSHJ’s 2020 trans-Tasman Reputation Reality survey found culture was the fourth most important driver of a good reputation. We know that a strong, purpose driven culture helps drive a good reputation and a better experience for employees. It will be important for management teams to actively manage, monitor and value team culture in this new working environment to ensure their people, especially new employees / graduates feel connected. In some cases, this will require management to rebuild or reset team culture to energise new and current employees and reestablish ‘team buy-in’ in the new working environment. 

The balance between high-tech and high touch will continue to be crucial for employees to meet the basic need of human interaction. While we are more seasoned to using technology, it has been at the expense of this interaction e.g. we are now quick to send emails rather than pick up the phone, which is quickly disintegrating team culture.

From a communications point of view management teams will need to adopt new and creative ways to build and sustain connectivity and morale. This doesn’t just mean having the odd Zoom morning tea, it means implementing sustainable, long-lasting actions that enable employees to continue developing their working relationships both in the office and remotely.

Ultimately, new, and current employees need connection regardless of whether they are in the office or at home. They need to know you had the best roast chicken last night, but you burnt the roast potatoes. It’s human, it’s real and it builds your team culture which is crucial to your organisation.