Just like technology, office spaces, and work schedules are changing with the future of work, so too are relationships. Our personal and professional relationships have changed dramatically in the past few years, due in large part to new thinking about how we manage our time and separate our work and life responsibilities.
Instead of the old standard of work/life balance–working from 9-5 and then leaving work behind for the evening while employees switched into “personal life” mode–the new idea is work/life integration–bringing together work and life responsibilities and relationships so that employees feel comfortable being their true selves no matter where they are. Changing how we define the relationship between our work and private lives has a huge impact on our relationships. Anne Raimondi, SVP of Strategy at Zendesk, a customer engagement platform that works around the world, shared some ideas of how employees and managers can rethink their relationships and the roles those relationships play at home and at work.
One of the biggest changes in our relationships is evolving technology. Instead of having to go visit someone in person or call them on the phone, we now have many more options to get in touch with someone, and most of us are connected to those communications channels for the majority of the day. The key to negotiating relationships with technology, Anne says, is to set boundaries, such as not emailing after a certain time of night or stepping away from electronics for an hour every day. After all, the fundamentals of a good relationship–communication, trust, and respect–still exist with or without technology. Employees and managers need to be deliberate about how they use technology to make sure they are using the right mode to communicate. In some situations, a text or email will suffice, while other situations call for face-to-face contact.
Part of the new way of thinking about relationships is providing employees the ability to grow themselves personally and professionally. Employees shouldn’t have to leave their personal passions outside the office. Zendesk realizes this by giving employees the opportunity to travel to its other locations around the world for work. It invests in a high number of transfers between its offices so employees have the opportunity to live in a new place, experience the culture, and work alongside employees from a different place in the world. Opening employees’ eyes to new situations gives them opportunities to build and strengthen new relationships and expands their horizons to new opportunities to help them grow both personally and professionally.
At Zendesk, many of the relationships and relationship-based programs are driven through data and giving feedback. This is a move from the traditional, hierarchical way of communicating between managers and employees and showcases the freedom of employees to more fully be themselves at work. The company uses a simple platform for employee engagement by asking three questions: an employee’s intent to stay with Zendesk, the likelihood they will recommend the company to a friend or family member, and how much the company motivates them. Those responses can then by sliced and diced to see in what departments or between which groups of people relationships can be improved. Perhaps the most important part is the free response section, which allows employees to share any additional feedback. Anne admits that the feedback can sometimes be difficult to read, but it is invaluable in creating a strong employee experience. Employees know that managers read every comment, which can make a huge difference in the trust and respect between people.
Relationships are the basis of a strong company, and being able to rethink relationships based on changes in the workplace and with technology can define a company’s culture and set them apart from the competition. Consider how relationships have changed within your organization and what you can do to foster those new relationships and develop authenticity.
Learn more about rethinking personal and professional relationships with Anne Raimondi here.
My new book, The Employee Experience Advantage (Wiley, March 2017) analyzes over 250 global organizations to understand how to create a place where people genuinely want to show up to work. Subscribe to the newsletter here or become a member of the new Facebook Community The Future If… and join the discussion.