Article: Loss of belongingness and the unanticipated aftermath of working remotely

Employee Engagement

Loss of belongingness and the unanticipated aftermath of working remotely

Are team-mates losing grip on the most significant ingredients of workplace success, a sense of belongingness with organisation due to remote working? Let’s explore!
Loss of belongingness and the unanticipated aftermath of working remotely

Since the pandemic, we have seen a drastic change in the way offices are evolving; managements have adopted a different way to run the businesses. Employees tend to seem uncomfortable about being in front of a screen all day without any interaction with their colleagues or any physical exercise to keep them motivated. People have had a traditional way of looking at their office and this change induced by the pandemic has stirred acute stress and confusion. As a result, employees are losing grip on the most vital aspect for success - a sense of belongingness.

Belongingness; crucial for an individual!

A huge part of the fame or professional success earned in an industry is mental satisfaction that one feels when they follow their passion. However, the current times have made it hard to maintain internal peace and work satisfaction, especially when the feeling of belongingness is slipping away by the day. In the light of the post-coronial work culture, it is observed that important factors such as securing employees' psychological and actual well-being, are not paid heed. All these elements combined with remuneration and encouragement from the company make up for the longevity of employees in an organisation, as per a research. People often say home is more of a feeling than a place, this idea roots from the sense of belongingness, where workers envision their offices to be their second home. But unfortunately, due to the recent crisis, everyone has gone back to choosing a set of walls to work inside- which is leading to a disconnect between colleagues along with their own family members as well. Masses of employees are losing a sense of affinity and have been looking for a solution for over a year now.

Companies started to have this realisation that it is becoming a pressing concern and have been endeavouring to instil norms and digital culture that helps bring this feeling back. Pre-COVID, the industry leaders across several verticals were seen investing time, money and efforts to build that employee experience; group excursions, off destinations, family days, commitment exercises, supporting family trips, costly utility gifts, five star encounters, learning and advancement drives and so forth; however, due to the paradigm shift in circumstances, they could not go ahead with their set approach and started seeking a different one to curb this issue.

In March 2020, organisations had to put novel efforts to make things a little more comfortable again while having no choice but to work from home. That feeling is all about a sense of belongingness. There are no two perspectives about how WFH has infringed on individual space and time. What's more, without human interface they feel lonelier regardless of having family around. 

Eat. Sleep. Work. Repeat?

Over the last two years, the world has adapted to the work from home culture. Leading to people having a better schedule with no commute has eased some stress but has made them compromise on the social engagement front and the enthusiasm they felt in an office environment. After such a long haul, the human psyche needs a change in scenery, an interface, a social bond and a sense of belongingness.

Employees require their colleagues to be in physical proximity to feel connected and align with the mutual goals of the company. They need significant, meaningful, intriguing and engaging conversations that make them feel in sync with others at work and further motivates them to be more efficient.

In a virtual office individuals are usually getting used to performing like machines having purposeless objectives the whole day. They wake up , they log in, they work half-heartedly or just to get it done, then eat, rest and rehash.

The connect between individuals

Organisations have been investing energy by adding outward inspiration to make employees feel a particular vibe. The foundation of this is enabling them to have purposeful discussions and make them feel heard, acknowledge their presence.

As employees carry on with their life cycle in an association, their needs and assumptions continue to change. But, what keeps them reinforced and engaged with an association is the feeling of belongingness that companies should now offer through different approaches.

Why Employees are Losing Their Grip 

  • Lack of Genuineness- This is the fundamental necessity to interact with and build trust and regard. Regardless of knowing somebody for quite a long time it is very hard to really interact with them behind their turned off cameras. 
  • Lack of opportunity to be useful - Team Members are losing freedom to show or recieve little tokens of graciousness, backing and care to one another. Those hall grins are sincerely missed, from opening a dustbin paddle for colleagues to holding others' espresso cups, little tokens of love and shared moments make associates come together and make them feel better about their work and help them feel part of a team, this feeling is minimal but very essential. 
  • Lack of attention with shut cameras- A virtual interface does not permit consideration of a group, pioneers and work companions. 
  • Lack of network building- A new study has uncovered that team members feel stuck and that straightforward individuals are feeling a loss of that stage where they could talk and be bashful individuals, furthermore missing the frank and energetic individuals who would bring everyone together. 

Roadblocks in creating a good employee-experience

For a very long time HR pioneers kept their kin at their most extreme needs much before their customers and clients. In any case, there isn't a lot of expansion in the worker experience record. Employees do recognise the endeavors because they still feel malcontented and disengaged. Potential road obstructions are -

  • Digital fatigue- Digital warriors spend more than 12 hours on systems and curate and supply information and at the same time they need to ensure their presence, quality and productivity.
  • Long hours at one spot- Long stretching hours of monotonous work and environment does not leave a room to connect with a team off work.
  • Unmapped need for investigation prompting lack of engagement- 60% of work-hours invested in data management leads to a burn-out and a deep sense of mistrust. A team's coherence is also a challenge as their needs are unmapped and most of the engaging activities are imposed on certain employees. 
  • Budgeting time- Budgeting time during WFH is a monumental task for employees and leaders. Most critical resources for any organisation are their employees who are getting overworked and hence at times fail to bridge the gap for family commitments and carry forward accumulated guilt. Despite receiving rewards for their performance, they consistently feel incomplete. Lack of balancing work and family commitment is a basic blockage to feeling content.
  • Restricted physical spaces- Across the globe employees are facing challenges when it comes to lack of personal space or infrastructure at home. It does not allow them to participate in engaging activities.
  • Superficial engagement activities- Activities are not planned as per their requirements. Most of the time HR plans activities to make the environment lighter which may turn into a short-term gratification and not the core transformation.

Road map to re-establish trust and professional bonding

Pioneers, exceptionally depending on the presented data, know about the ground reality better which broadens the gap and is a primary cause of incremental dissatisfaction and burnouts. 

A hybrid workplace may bring its own challenges, however no other solutions are at hand. Organisations need to opt out of under-dosing quick fix solutions, and rather they must aim for transformation, not for transactional capsule sessions keeping time and cost at the center. Untimely calls for action are also another reason for poor sense of belongingness in teams. Decisions not taken on time turn into wrong decisions, most of the key decision makers overlook this fact and go for a reactive approach.  

There is nothing more beautiful than a cohesive workforce which aligns its vision with the organisations’. Therefore an organisation which aims to have an optimum OHI (Organisational health index) prepares well in time to build a culture of togetherness and environment built for collaboration.

  • Employers must plan a well-thought experience plan for leaders and not just for employees
  • Happiness leave per year
  • Reimbursing a program/course of their own choice
  • Understanding their family challenges and conditions, keeping a corpus for the same to support contingency
  • Better insurance coverage
  • Well-crafted mental wellness preventive solutions 
  • Mapping need of employees
  • Uplifting quality of life for employees 
  • Outsource mental wellness services, In-house support may backfire

Knowing the elemental motivation of team members is the key to pleasant business outcomes. The ownership and commitment towards work is the baby for a sense of belongingness. Alongside presenting well-arranged, sway-driven key wellness initiatives, organisations might revise approaches to improve employee experience.

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Topics: Employee Engagement, #GuestArticle, #MentalHealth

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