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Connection is key

Connection is key

Everyone has heard of FOMO. Fear Of Missing Out. Humans are naturally social animals who value connections with fellow humans. Of course, when we come to work, we don’t leave ourselves at the door; our emotions cleverly follow us to our desks. Workplace design company Evoke Projects examines how social connections at work affect our health and performance. The team also shares the best office design strategies for improving connection in the workplace.

Better mental health and well-being

Research shows that 9 out of 10 Australians believe mentally healthy workplaces are important.1 Feeling connected is a strong contributor to positive well-being at work. It is also a part of our overall self-identity as work takes up so much of our lives.

Good social cohesion translates into better physical health because we know that stress and anxiety manifest physically through headaches, sleep problems and a weaker immune system. Psychology academics Shelly Gable and Courtney Gosnell write that close relationships are linked to health as they build certain biological systems that may protect against the adverse effects of stress.2

Higher engagement

Luckily, work is a shared interest amongst employees, so watercooler chats often involve work topics, not just sports scores or the latest office gossip. Learning about customers or new projects makes people feel part of the company fabric.

Gable and Gosnell’s research found that in response to social contact, the brain releases oxytocin, a powerful hormone linked to trustworthiness and motivation to help others in the workplace.3

This connection with colleagues feels good and inspires deeper engagement with projects and tasks. Higher engagement means higher productivity. A study that compared businesses ranking in the top and bottom 25% on employee engagement showed an 18% drop in productivity and a 60% drop in quality between the top and bottom performers.4

Improved retention and company culture

It can cost as much as 50% to 60% of an employee’s annual salary to replace them so you will definitely want to retain your best workers.5 Employees that feel included also feel valued and appreciated. This leads to better loyalty to a company so you won’t lose your best talent to ‘The Great Resignation of 2022’!

High absenteeism, workplace illness and low morale are sure signs that something is wrong culturally within an organisation.6 Taking steps to improve social connection within the workplace will lead to an overall improvement in company culture, teambuilding and creativity.

A best friend is even better!

MI Blues Perspective in Michigan goes one step further and outlines the benefits of actually having a best friend at work.7
People with a best friend at work:

  • Are seven times more likely to be engaged in their work
  • Are better engaged with customers
  • Are less likely to get injured on the job
  • Have increased productivity
  • Have a stronger bond with the company they work for
  • Receive more praise
  • Tend to be more committed to quality work

Best office design strategies to promote connection

Connection has always been important. Remote working just highlighted what we missed from our face-to-face interactions. Even hybrid working influences how connected people feel. If someone’s ‘office day’ does not coincide with their social buddies, they will feel demotivated and excluded.

The best commercial interior design strategies will result in an office fit-out that promotes social interaction. Everyone will benefit from a physical environment that is ‘better connected’.

The workplace design team at Evoke Projects recommends:

  • Open plan office fit-outs to maximise collaboration
  • Dividers and partitions instead of solid walls
  • Glass walls for offices that need to be enclosed
  • Effective acoustics in the office fit-out so that people feel comfortable chatting
  • Centralised technology spaces for printing, photocopying and re-charging phones
  • Breakout areas, breakfast bars and lounge areas for downtime
  • Courtyards, rooftops and balconies for outdoor mingling
  • Public gathering spaces for non-workplace visitors such as suppliers and clients

Food and drink are particularly important. We are our most sociable selves while sharing a meal or sipping a coffee. Larger businesses can install a fully serviced café within the commercial fit-out. Smaller companies could focus on creating a homely kitchen with a good quality coffee machine, large fridge and some comfortable seating not too far away!

Please contact the workplace designers at Evoke Projects on 1300 720 692 to find out more about ‘better connected’ office designs and office fit-outs.

citing State of Workplace Mental Health in Australia. TNS Social Research/Beyond Blue
citing Gable, S. L., & Gosnell, C. L. (2011). The positive side of close relationships. In K. M. Sheldon, T. B., Kashdan, & M. F. Steger (Eds.), Designing positive psychology: Taking stock and moving forward (pp. 265–279). Oxford University Press.
6.Ref 1 above

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