Social bonding: why it’s key in the workplace

On June the 22nd, 2021, CDB organized a webinar on the importance of social bonding in the office.

Audrey Eberhardt, Denis Monneuse and Anna Bolzinger Bonlieu discussed the consequences of the current health crisis on work environments, from its impact on the employee experience, to the financial and the managerial outcomes.

A poll carried out by CDB last May revealed that 57% of French employees believe that the boundary between their private and professional lives has started to fade since the start of the pandemic. And, 67% say that the workplace also represents a space for personal life, outside the family unit.

This phenomenon is unprecedented and never before have our private lives spilled so copiously in our professional environments. In recent months, with the acceleration of remote work, the boundaries have blurred further. CDB, observed three major trends:

1. A greater mix between professional and personal life

Most people have experienced an upheaval in their relationship with others – be it family, friends and colleagues. Employees have developed a new relationship with work and the company. There was no choice but to adapt. By mixing remote work with office work, video conferences with face-to-face meeting, professional and personal life, people’s work life has indeed become hybrid.

The return to the office is for some a relief, it is an opportunity to recreate a space for focus, far from the family unit. For others, this return can be synonymous with constraints, loss of time due to commuting, difficulty in leaving the family cocoon.

2. New forms of management

Managers will have to respond and adapt to the growing demand for more flexibility. But above all, they will have to take the time to recreate a social bond. Local managers have a very important role in safeguarding employees’ well-being and their feeling of belonging to their company. The development of remote work is an opportunity for these managers to question their role, their added value and the new needs of their teams. How can they ensure the best possible conditions for their employees?

3. Employee expectations have become higher

Siloing work and leisure is not easy for everyone. Firstly, because the corporate culture and management may not allow it. But also because some employees may be more willing to share than others - the younger generations tends to mix work and leisure more than older workers.

According to Denis Monneuse, this attitude can vary drastically depending on national culture. In Japan, for example, a good worker is one who stays late at night. The team’s perception is very important but does not necessarily imply higher productivity. In Sweden, employers tends to be “paternalistic” making sure that employees are healthy and eat well, providing fitness centres access, for example. This kind of culture aims to mix professional and personal life while aiming to achieve a win-win relationship. Finally, in Quebec, privacy is very important for both the employer and the employee. Family dinner (around 5.30 pm - 6 pm) is an essential tradition. Thus, it is common to reduce holidays, and to finish earlier to be with the family.

The importance of the employee experience

For Anna Bolzinger Bonlieu, one of the challenges for the company is to design the best possible employee experience. If it is successful, it could prove to be a real tool for engagement and will directly influence the performance of the company. It is estimated that companies with highly engaged employees have 21% higher productivity than others. Rethinking the employee experience today means focusing on the new expectations of teams while sustaining business activities.

The office must reinvent itself and recreate social ties

To meet the new needs of the employees’, the starting point is diversifying the types of space and tools available in an office to combine conviviality, collaboration and concentration. If employees come back to the office to do what we can do also do from home, the office would have no reason to keep existing. So "Why are we going to the office?". CDB answered this question on three levels: rational, emotional and sense of belonging.

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