A quiet office can be a sign of an efficient workforce – but it can also mean people aren’t communicating effectively.
In the modern workplace, collaboration is key. But how can you break the silence and encourage people to talk to each other?
The Death of Small Talk explores how we can revitalise office chatter and forge connections between co-workers. By taking the first step, you can bring people together and help encourage communication in the workplace.
What’s the point in talking at work?
Having a comfortable atmosphere where it’s easy to approach others for work (and non-work) related chat is important for workplace morale.
According to a US study by SHRM, 88% of workers said having good relationships with co-workers was either ‘important’ or ‘very important’ to their overall job satisfaction. Feeling at ease about being able to talk to co-workers can help employees feel comfortable at work, making it a much more relaxing environment. Beyond forging good workplace relationships, 89% said teamwork was ‘important’ or ‘very important’ when it comes to how they feel about work.
So, what does this mean?
Having an environment that operates on good communication will make it much easier for people to work together to carry out their roles efficiently, and to achieve job satisfaction.
How to get talking?
There are many small things you can do to open up new channels and opportunities for communication across the workplace.
Social media and the workplace – According to a study by Pew Research Centre , 51% of workers who use social media platforms for work-related purposes say it helps them to get to know their co-workers. Beyond the social benefits, 56% believe it has an overall positive effect and aids performance.
So, what can you do?
While always remaining professional, consider making the effort to connect with co-workers over social media. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram might be too personal, but Twitter and LinkedIn can be great places to share content with like-minded people you work with.
Always use your judgement – you should know when it’s not appropriate to ‘add’ someone (and if in doubt, don’t!). But, when used correctly, it can open opportunities to start a conversation or connect over a mutual interest and help you to get to know the people you work with a little better.
Make the most of technology
While technology can be a communication killer, it can also allow people to connect in new ways. Oxford Economics and Virgin Business’ 2015 study revealed digital technology helps 43% of businesses create a more engaged workforce, and 60% say it helps with better collaboration.
So, what can you do?
Look for new ways to use technology to collaborate with co-workers. If you work remotely, consider using video conferencing more often. Speaking ‘face-to-face’ can be a daunting prospect sometimes, but can also it make it easier to communicate efficiently and will allow you to feel more involved with those you work with.
In addition to video conferencing, a chat platform can be a useful tool for connecting with team members and cross-department collaborators. It’s easy to create groups that include all the relevant
people, and it provides a casual space where you can communicate and keep up to date on progress, avoiding the formality of long email chains.
Get out of your seat
According to Ofcom, of the collective time that the UK spends reading and sending emails, 77% belongs to people at work. Desk-based workers own most of the share, at 80%, compared to 20% of non-desk workers. On the flip side, those whose jobs aren’t desk-based spend far more time on video calls, compared to office workers.
So, what can you do?
Get out of your chair! We can all fall into a rut where it seems easier to keep to ourselves, especially in a busy or new workplace. But, while it can be tempting to just ‘put it in an email’, motivating yourself to speak to people face-to-face can make for a more efficient and enjoyable experience at work.
Next time you’re writing an email to a co-worker, ask yourself if it would be better to simply speak to them instead. It may be a bit nerve-wracking if they’re not someone you usually work with, but chances are they’ll appreciate the effort, and you may find you get things done a bit quicker, too!
By using technology and taking initiative, you can begin to create a workplace environment where it feels natural for people to talk to each other. Technology and social media can help, but at the end of the day it’s about being willing to break the silence and make a little small talk.