41% of employees working remotely struggle with feeling a sense of camaraderie with their coworkers.
Our recent independent research report – 2021 Digital workplace trends & insights – uncovered some of the biggest employee pain points today, like the fact that many feel disconnected from coworkers. In his new book, Social By Design, Beezy Customer Success Manager James Tyer explores the notion of creating a more social organization by design, and how it can help create and grow connectedness and have a positive impact on ROI. The book reviews the tech landscape and tools used (Slack, Teams, etc.), diving into how to rewire organizations to “encourage the easy and sustained flow of information and ideas, conversation, collaboration, and—eventually—learning and innovation.”
Here's what James had to say about the book, and how a successful digital workplace can play a critical role in organizational culture.
Q & A with James Tyer
Beezy Customer Success Manager
& Co-author of Social By Design
Your book advocates for a more 'social organization.' Can you explain this concept?
James: In the book, we define "social" to mean: "the actions and interactions that build and maintain transparent, open, and trusting relationships at work." These relationships are the core of how work gets done – how we collaborate, share, innovate.
To a significant extent, all work is social. We need to communicate and get on with people enough to accomplish our work. Very rarely do we work in isolation from others. But many organizations are designed – formally and informally – to prevent these relationships developing and these conversations from happening.
We discovered in our independent research report, here at Beezy, that more than half of employees today struggle to feel connected and engaged with work. How can a more social organization help combat these feelings of disengagement?
James: Disengagement is a direct result of being an unsocial organization. How does this happen? The core reasons are different for each organization. The causes can be informal (norms/collective behaviours) or formal (systems, policies, and processes). For example, you might have secretive, untouchable leaders who rarely engage with employees. This sets the example for how others should act to be “successful.”
Or it could be the rewards and recognition policies and processes of an organization that ‘promote up’ based on subject matter expertise, rather than collaboration and people skills. Your organization might be output-obsessed, rather than focused on meaningful outcomes and value, resulting in a lack of co-operation and more competition. And there could even be more subtle blockers to interaction, such as dominant cultural and geographical differences.
Imagine flipping these to create a positive, connected and social workplace – making it Social by Design. It’s not easy, but we've got some great examples in the book.
In your words, how can Beezy can help make organizations more social and, therefore, more successful – when it comes to things like innovation, reduced turnover, and increased productivity?
James: Beezy has the potential to enable and scale a social organization. However, this type of social interaction doesn’t happen by chance or just because you buy Beezy. We tend to think it should be enough to layer in some social technology to get people talking. But technology by itself doesn’t create social interaction or produce innovative ideas or new products and services. However, if you get the people side right, Beezy provides an amazingly frictionless experience to help that interaction and collaboration happen. If you focus on the social design of your organization – and the changes you need to support and foster social connection – you can reap exponential benefits from Beezy.
As a Customer Success Manager, what are some of the biggest employee pain points organizations come to you looking to solve?
James: My background is in designing and seeding effective workplace networks and communities, building connections and bridging silos for specific outcomes. It’s a pleasure to work with Beezy customers who want to build connection and collaboration across departments and geographies that generally work disconnected from each other.
Why do you think so many employees struggle with feeling camaraderie with coworkers while working remotely?
James: Think of it this way: if employees struggled with this when they were in offices, why would remote working be any different? Imagine a workplace (one I worked in years ago) where leadership had their own floor, with a gatekeeping admin sitting outside the door. How does that play out when we suddenly had to move to remote work with COVID? How long does it take to accomplish anything in such a top-down workplace? Remote connection and collaboration are hard and require thoughtful leadership and devolved, localized decision-making. A digital workplace solution like Beezy is, of course, critical for delivering the kind of employee experience that’s needed in today’s workplace.
What, in your view, are the most important steps organizational leaders can take to make their digital workplace one where everyone’s engaged, connected, and happy?
James: Our book isn’t prescriptive: There are no “you should be like Google and do this” instructions to follow. Because every organization is different, we wrote the book as a series of principles to try out and questions to consider. We wanted organizations to develop their own versions of Social by Design.
Of course, the right technology plays a key role. But it’s important to remember that most workplace technologies help your employees to get work done. Tools such as Microsoft Teams, and SharePoint offer good user experiences, but don’t really challenge and change how people work. For example, it’s not a big shift to move from email to a Teams Channel to contact your department. In contrast, by being social and a fully integrated intelligent digital workplace, Beezy can truly help you transform how work gets done in your organization, if you also focus on building a social workplace. The potential ROI from a technology like Beezy is far greater than buying a set of tech tools.
Read the book: Social by Design.
And if you want the latest research on what's ailing employees these days, and the actions needed to fix the problems and boost engagement, have a look at our recent research report.