A group of people with strong skill sets and impressive resumes may sound like the ideal team to have working for your company.
Teams need more than just skills to ensure the best productivity, though...
You need to be friends, not just co-workers.
A study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Minnesota found conclusively that friends who worked together were more productive and yielded higher-quality work than teams that were merely acquaintances.
Workers with friends in the office were also more likely to care more about their work and remain with the company longer.
Here are some ways you can use technology to encourage friendships between employees.
1. Use instant messages in addition to email.
Both Slack and HipChat are popular business-focused instant messaging services. Set up your team with one of these services and encourage employees to use it throughout the day. Set up chat rooms or channels for work related topics and some just for fun things. You’ll be surprised the number of connections that can build through conversations that start about funny videos or cool websites.
Instant messaging provides an easy way for employees to chat with each other faster and more casually than an email allows. Features like built-in memes and customized emoji characters are also fun ways for employees to express emotions from behind a screen.
2. Make everyone's contact info easily accessible.
Especially in larger companies, having an always-up-to-date digital directory of photos and contact information is a great way to make sure employees can easily get in touch with each other, even if they haven’t asked for an email or chat username.
Photos make it easier to connect with new people, too. Try using Directory powered by Spruce to distribute employee information.
3. Use a shared company calendar for social events.
Put things like birthdays, holiday parties, and team lunches on a shared calendar like a Google or Microsoft Exchange calendar. By putting events on shared company calendars like these, you avoid the drama and hurt feelings of someone accidentally not getting invited to an event because they weren’t on the email chain.
Knowing birthdays can also create closeness between employees who share the same birth date or month.
4. Take advantage of the breakroom TV.
Have a tech company or tech-minded people? Watch big announcements or conferences from companies like Apple and Google live together.
Need some inspiration to think big? Choose any lunch hour and show one of these TED Talks:
- How Great Leaders Inspire Action
- The Puzzle of Motivation
- 8 Secrets of Success
- The Happy Secret to Better Work
- Why Work Doesn't Happen at Work
Trying to keep spirits up after a rough week? Play classic comedies all Friday in the break room (just make sure they’re workplace appropriate). The occasional extra time your employees may spend in the break room will pay off if they’re happier as a result.
While technology can’t replace face-to-face interactions in building friendships, it can be a great supplement. Tools like the ones above also can help ease a new employee’s transition into an established office.
Make sure that the technology solutions you choose for your office encourage a sense of community, not isolation.