Does Socializing in the Workplace Improve Productivity?

July 14, 2017

How Socializing in the Workplace Affects Employee Productivity

Socializing Is Essential to Wellbeing

It’s no secret that humans are social creatures. Even the most introverted people need friends and social groups to prevent feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Tom Rath and Jim Harter co-authored Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements and have studied the science of wellbeing extensively. They discovered that people need a whopping six hours of daily social interaction to create a high sense of wellbeing. Even the most introverted people require five hours of social interaction for wellbeing.

Workplace Socializing Increases Employee Engagement/Productivity

Since employees spend about 40% of their waking lives at work, it is obvious that social interaction in the workplace is fundamental to an overall sense of wellbeing for employees. In fact, ‘career wellbeing’—or liking what you do for a living—is one of the five essential elements of wellbeing identified by Rath and Harter. Willis Towers Watson found that more employers are focusing on the overall wellbeing—career, health, financial, and personal—of employees. Improvements in wellbeing result in better productivity, higher quality work, and increased employee engagement.

Face to Face Interaction Improves Team Productivity

Does social technology equal social wellbeing? Yes and no. Using social media does give people a sense of belonging, but it does not have as big of an impact on wellbeing as face to face social interaction. Providing workers with social productivity tools like messaging while encouraging them to stay in their cubicles is not as effective as getting the team together for brainstorming and innovation.

Creating opportunities to engage face to face is an important consideration now that 43% of employees work remotely at least part of the time. A Stanford University study discovered that remote workers were 13% more productive than their in-office peers, yet were half as likely to receive a promotion, in spite of their performance gains. Is this disparity partly caused by a lack of social cohesion between managers and remote employees?

Designing a Social Workplace

Employers need to create opportunities for social interaction in the workspace that can increase teamwork and engagement, without sacrificing personal productivity. Consider how your employees utilize the physical workspace. Design workspace for groups that encourages face to face interaction, while also setting aside some workspace areas that are quieter and more private for employees that are more easily distracted or are working on very focused, intense projects. Make sure remote workers can engage in face to face meetings, whether that is regular use of video conferencing or bringing them to the office physically through the use of shared workspaces.

Jacob Morgan, author of The Future of Work: Attract New Talent, Build Better Leaders, and Create a Competitive Organization, suggests that the employee experience is created through the interaction of three factors: the physical workspace, the work culture, and the technological environment. He noted that many employers offer many different layouts for working–conference rooms, open layouts, cubicle bullpen layouts, café environments, learning environments and places for employees to have alone and quiet time.

“Nobody wants to work in a physical space that doesn’t make them feel inspired and engaged and excited,” said Morgan. “Does your organization offer multiple modes of working? That is the number one question we should be asking ourselves. It’s not about open versus closed. It’s about giving our employees the freedom and flexibility to choose the environment they want to work in that will make them most engaged, productive and effective.”

In addition to the physical design of the workspace, consider ways to improve employee engagement through social activities in the workplace. This can include organized office events like celebrations and employee recognition but can also include smaller social gestures such as beginning each meeting with a bit of personal conversation. Managers can encourage employees to create ‘lunch bunches’ or exercise groups. Companies can facilitate employee efforts to volunteer or fundraise for nonprofit causes. Creating opportunities for employees to plug into social groups at the office can improve team cohesion and foster better workplace wellbeing. In essence, team-building activities enable employees to both play hard and work hard.

Aligning Your Workspace to Support Social Wellbeing

Today’s most successful companies are building a culture to support their mobile workforce by offering user friendly tools to help workers find space and connect with colleagues when in the office. Asure Software’s Hoteling and Mobile Workforce Management solutions can help your organization bring your mobile, agile workforce into the 21st century.