On the heels of massive workplace disruption, new research from B2B ratings and reviews firm Clutchfinds employees saying that COVID-19 has damaged their corporate culture. Already, 63 percent of employees spend less time socializing with their colleagues—both in-person and virtually—since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic.
Experts agree—the transition to remote work has hurt office socialization, despite efforts to adjust. “When working remotely, there’s not really the option to have a quick chat with your co-workers by the coffee machine,” said Sara Bandurian, human resources coordinator at design agency Online Optimism, in a news release.
Offices are increasingly investing in methods to communicate virtually, with 26 percent saying their company has provided its employees greater access to communication technology in the past 30 days, a number that is likely to increase.
However, even with the adoption of Zoom and other tools, socialization is still suffering
“Fun” initiatives largely fail to be adopted
Despite experts believing that businesses will host more virtual social events as companies acclimate to remote work, one-third of employees (35 percent) report that their company has not hosted a virtual social event since remote work as a result of the pandemic began.
George Kuhn, the president of Drive Research, a market research firm, says his company introduced two virtual events: social coffee hours and virtual games, providing an alternative to the standard small talk of virtual meals.
These games and opportunities can provide a fun competitive outlet for employees, yet they’re not widely adopted. Only 13 percent report that their office is holding happy hours, while 9 percent say their office is hosting activities and games. Just 5 percent report virtual meals being held.
The most popular virtual social event is professional development sessions, a fusion that can be both fun and beneficial. However, fewer than 1 in 5 (19 percent) say that professional development sessions have happened.
Remote work creates greater managerial availability
One bright spot is the availability of managers during remote work. More than 4 in 5 (81 percent) say that their manager is as available or more available since the start of remote work.
For companies, making sure employees have access to their manager while working from home is essential to maintaining company culture.
“When working remotely, it can be easy to get lost, confused, or overwhelmed without that leadership you’re used to in a normal workplace,” said Chane Steiner, CEO of Crediful, a personal finance website.
Nevertheless, 19 percent of employees report that their manager is less available because of remote work, showing that America’s managers are adapting to remote work well.