The past seven months have seen the UK undergo a mass home-working experiment. During lockdown, some 20 million workers were estimated to be working from home (for comparison only about 1.7 million people classed themselves as home-workers pre-COVID).
In the ‘before times’, when a pandemic wasn’t even on many organisations’ risk registers, leaders might have tried to create platforms for cohesion via team ‘bonding’ events, like away days.
What the coronavirus pandemic has proved though is that true connection doesn’t necessarily come via enforced fun or team-building activities. Instead, cohesion is about enabling people to work well together. It’s those systems and platforms that allow and encourage human conversations, which then help to build meaningful relationships and connection.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, 24% of adults said they had felt lonely in the past two weeks, when asked at the height of lockdown. This compares to 10% before lockdown. The need for cohesion has never been higher, as many of us continue to work in relative isolation.
There is evidence that lacking positive relationships at work negatively impacts performance. A study from Sacramento State’s College of Business Administration found employees who feel isolated or lonely are less engaged and less committed to their organisations.
We also know that feeling a sense of cohesion is vital to team alignment and flow, as it helps build a sense of unity and collective effort and ambition. Cohesion and connection helps team members work together seamlessly, rather than as a disparate collection of individuals.