30 July 2020

Distant but united … did it really happen?

How has Covid-19 impacted workplace communications and relationships? And what we could do to save the engagement and the sense of belonging of our people in the new normality?

The power of simple things

Social distancing, working-from-home, and contingent access to the workplace threaten to weaken communication and relationships with bosses, collaborators and colleagues. “What the eye does not see, the heart does not grieve,” says a proverb but how then can we see the difficulties that our colleagues are experiencing to keep private and working life together? How to understand what are the effective measures to support them and keep motivation, sense of belonging and productivity high?

No more corridor voices or stomachache expressed in front of a coffee machine. The only way to know what is really going on is to ask everyone. That is what we did through a quick survey. We realized that simple things make people feel good even in a period like this: simple things like communication. Yes, because knowing that there was a team that was working for us and that, with a great effort, was keeping everyone constantly updated on developments of the situation made the difference.

About 68% of Siemens employees in Italy have shared their opinion on how the company managed the emergency in areas of prevention and safety, and communication and proximity. The emails from the Crisis Management team became the daily update that made sure everyone was informed and felt a sense of security. We all can agree that we should keep the momentum going and keep improving along the way.

In detail, almost 100% of respondents confirm that the company have taken appropriate and timely measures to protect employees from Covid-19 and that they all felt well-informed by the company. 93% say that the company managed to stay close to them also from a psychological point of view and 92% confirm that “Management has found a way to keep us united during the lockdown”.

This demonstrates that we can be close even if we are far, you can feel part of a team and work effectively for common goals even if you are not sitting side by side. Furthermore, also all the managers said that they fully trust their teams.  Obviously, the team spirit is something that must be built one piece at a time and requires a bit of planning also because virtual meetings often bring to a full mixture of the private and the working life.

In fact, all this experience teaches us that closeness is not an essential condition for good communication and for feeling part of a whole. What you really need is the willingness to listen and share (something that forced isolation has helped us develop) plus a pinch of planning to dedicate to all our people the deserved care and attention.

This therefore seems to be the perfect recipe for maintaining a sense of belonging and reducing distances, and not just physical ones.

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