Office Experiences: Community Socialization
Most people encountered a significant lack of connection during the pandemic. Feelings of isolation became paramount as chance encounters and social circles were removed. It’s crucial to support feelings of connection as people return to the office.
Over the course of the pandemic, circles grew smaller. Due to social distancing, run ins with strangers or somewhat distant acquaintances came to a halt. People largely kept up virtually with their close circles, but the chance encounters with people outside those circles were no more. This has led to feelings of isolation; this outer circle of acquaintances is vital to an individual’s social health and wellbeing.
Research from Herman Miller shows that there are three core experiences best supported by the office. One of those is community socialization, which fills that need for outer circle relationships. Setting up your office to support this experience can help increase the social health and well-being of your team.
At the workplace, encounters with those outside of that “first circle” are what help establish and maintain culture. Things like making small talk with a coworker from another department can help people feel a sense of purpose and belonging.
This type of connection may feel like chance encounters, but the likelihood that this will happen can be increased. Build in areas that encourage socialization, where people can connect with people beyond their everyday coworkers.
From couches, cafes, and co-work spaces, there are a variety of ways you can encourage your people to interact with their extended networks and help reestablish these connections.