Social standing: rebuilding experience and informal collaboration

Informal collaborations, experiences and social connections need to be rebuilt as we head back to the office. Can technology provide answers? A new report from Condeco probes the issue

As organisations around the world step up plans to return to the office this autumn, reviving creativity and collaboration is frequently cited as a key factor in bringing people back to a physical workplace.

However, according to research, it is not just higher-value interpersonal work such as formal training, mentoring and innovation activities that have suffered in the global pandemic – all-round employee experience, unplanned social exchanges and informal patterns of collaboration have also been casualties of the crisis.

A new report by Condeco in partnership with WORKTECH Academy, called ‘Enhancing Experience and Collaboration: Routes to Revival in Returning to the Office’, highlights why curated workplace experiences and continuous collaboration remain so important to business.

The report is the second in a Condeco Conversations series of studies exploring the shifts that have occurred since the start of the pandemic on the journey to more flexible working. It examines the enduring role of the office as a critical enabler of what is termed ‘higher-value social interaction’, drawing insights from a network of Corporate Real Estate (CRE) professionals and leading academics who participated in webinars, workshops and interviews as part of the research.

Reason to rethink

Informal connection and face-to-face collaboration comprise an under-recognised form of work that now requires organisations to rethink how they curate their office space to provide seamless experiences, address the social needs of all employees, and bridge the gap between physical and remote workers.

‘The report places technology at the epicentre of the new workplace…’

The report responds to the changing social needs of employees and confronts the challenges of managing a more flexible workforce; it reinforces the concept of the office as a hub of interaction and social activity, and places technology at the epicentre of the new workplace with a focus on digital equality, app-centric working, and room booking and scheduling.

In tandem with space

Ultimately, the Condeco report concludes that the big opportunity for corporate firms is in enhancing employee experience and social interaction across a multi-channel workforce. It recognises technology as a powerful enabler of collaboration and experience, but this aspect need to work in tandem with physical space for it to reach its full potential as a tool for social cohesion.

As Kestin Sailer, professor of the sociology of architecture at University College London, explains in the report: ‘It’s important to see office space as an “opportunity structure”. If designed well, it can support identity, trust, community and belonging.’ 

This new study follows Condeco’s report into supporting learning and innovation.

Condeco’s ‘Enhancing Experience and Collaboration: Routes to Revival in Returning to the Office’ report can be downloaded here.

Condeco is a Global Partner of WORKTECH Academy. An exclusive extract from the ‘Enhancing Experience and Collaboration’ report can be found in our Innovation Zone. Find out how to become a Member of WORKTECH Academy to access the Innovation Zone  here.
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