In the last three years our planners have been called upon with increasing frequency by HR departments across the country to create team building events that can help their workers overcome an emerging work-related injury:
Depression – caused by – S O L I T U D E
The “work-from-home” new normal that has been a financial boon to technology companies, banks, customer service vendors, and a myriad of other service-related industries has unfortunately been accompanied by some negative impacts. It seems that workers who were originally thrilled to forego commuting in traffic, being herded by hovering supervisors, and forced to attend endless meetings have discovered that working from home casts a deep sense of solitude across their lives. Here’s what some experienced “work-from-home” employees reported after working from home for a length of time.
A Lack of Normal Social Interaction
“So, after some time working remotely, I began to miss the coffee chats, previously felt as unproductive wastes of time. I felt detached from the team, especially when the teams I worked with were made of multiple people working in the same office/place, and seeming to have fun.”
“A part of the problem is that on a chat, people do not see you physically, so they cannot really estimate if you are at a good moment to be interrupted. So, you are interrupted a lot, and if you are a bit like me, you feel forced to answer quickly. And in case you do not know it, interruptions are loathed by programmers, since it is really bad for their productivity as it breaks their focus.”
“Working at home can mean a lot of loneliness. I really started to hate being alone most of the time and have felt it to be quite bad for my mental health and my mood.”
You Never Leave Work
“When you work remotely, you do not leave your working place at night. On top of that, if you work with people in different time zones, you might end up communicating a lot with people when your day is already over.”
“Working remotely makes you less visible in your company. On a more humorous note, you have to consider that working in your sweat pants for years, unshaved and without too much time constraints, might make you unfit to go back to work in an office. You might suffer from some degradation of your social skills.”
Meeting and event planners to the rescue. “We need you to design an abbreviated but more frequent team building event for our “work-from-home” team members. They’re starting to lose touch and seem to get ill more frequently than our on-site team.”
Since 2015, our meeting planners are having this conversation with corporate managers and HR departments more frequently. In response, we have designed a myriad of custom, brief, and regularly scheduled team building events for smaller employee groups that need to be reassured that they still belong, and their company knows that they exist. These are the elements we always include when customizing these smaller team building events:
- Always use a local venue.
- Design social engagement rather than instruction sessions.
- Personalize the event. This get-together is for the remote workers attending not for the corporation at large.
- Keep the event brief but structured.
- Design exercises that make “work-from-home” team members feel relaxed, connected, and valued.
- Talk with not down-to remote team members.
- No “corny” stuff. No little gifts. No greeting cards. No “school-marm” lectures. Show respect to highly intelligent employees who are asked to self-supervise their own production.
- Give them a real-world problem to solve with their on-site colleagues attending the custom event. The duration of the team-building event serves as a deadline.
New Problem – New Solution
These smaller, brief, and more frequent team building events are exactly what the doctor ordered for the modern, work-from-home corporate landscape that has evolved over the past ten years. We predict that planners will be swamped with requests in 2018.