Our life, every day, every hour, is full of unconscious behaviors, which we as managers should bring to light in this new normality and consider how we can actively shape them. Because if you actively design social micro-interactions, they can become valuable links in a more virtual corporate culture of the new normal.
Subconsciously, Unconsciously, Immediately
What do we do before sitting at the desk and looking at the screen? That’s right; we carry out hundreds of so-called micro-interactions: we wave to neighbors or colleagues on the way, greet each other with a smile in the company parking lot, make short small talk behind the entrance gate. In this way, we unconsciously consolidate the pillars of the social framework on which our everyday work is based. Unfortunately, working in the home office has largely suppressed these social aspects of everyday interpersonal dealings.
Micro-Interactions Or Why The Small Is So Important To The Big Picture
Let’s go back a step: Actually, the term “micro-interactions” comes from the technology industry and primarily defines those experiences that arise in the interaction between a user and a technological device. They denote the small details in and around the functions: How can users change a setting? How do you turn mute on or find out that you have received a new email message?
Micro-interactions can also refer to interpersonal relationships in communicative interaction. They arise automatically when people come into contact with one another. For example, in meetings or conferences, for example, (non-) verbal reactions such as approval by nodding the head slightly, doubts or rejection by raising an eyebrow often say more than a thousand words to the other person. Subconsciously, these behavioral nuances consolidate the cohesion within teams, promote empathy, or bring thematic differences to light. In short: micro-interactions act like social glue in the companies we work with.
Nothing Is Standard In The New Normal Anymore
Along with our other executives, I asked myself whether we could ensure that these critical micro-interactions are not lost in shifting life and work into virtual space. Can we recreate them to inspire our employees and customers in the New Normal as well? In UX design, even the most minor details have an enormous effect – such as the green checkmark signals that our text input has actually been registered and does not disappear into data nirvana as soon as we close the browser. We have to pay more attention to these details in the new world of work because their effects could trigger a collective energy boost.
Small Actions For Significant Changes
So we took a close look at the new needs of our employees to support our employees on their way to greater autonomy, flexibility, and satisfaction. An example on the way there: virtual and real meetings only occur if they fulfill the two D’s: discussion (discussion) and decision-making (decision-making). Anything that does not meet these two criteria can be discussed and taken care of via chats, emails, or a joint paper. To avoid getting stuck in non-dynamic meetings or feedback loops, we have recently released “Capture,” an all-in-one tool for visual communication via screen recording. Short video messages enable faster, more positive communication with the team; the personal messages provide context and a stronger bond. After all, our work’s results and impact are essential to us – not the number of times we attended meetings or the hours we sat on desk chairs to achieve our goals!
In my opinion, the four most important basic building blocks for successful remote or hybrid work are:
- Effectiveness : Do not concentrate on 100 tasks simultaneously, but prioritize your goals anew every day. The following applies here: first and foremost and in the correct mode. Think of deep work phases in which you can concentrate on working asynchronously and working hours that you would like to devote to synchronous teamwork.
- Teamwork: Get to know your team from a distance. Build trust and cultivate the interpersonal aspect of the job. Team workshops or coffee chats in a relaxed digital atmosphere can be the key here, in which the employees and team morale are the focus, and thus, good impulses for more inspiration and cohesion arise.
- Communication: Working remotely means interpreting facial expressions and the use of punctuation marks in chats and video conferencing all day, day in and day out. So write, make conferences more effective and inclusive, be attentive, and be ready to resolve conflicts quickly. Stay in close contact with your team and take a close look.
- Well-being : Make sure you have an excellent work-life balance. Set boundaries, avoid negative thought loops with immediate problem-solving. Organize your working days according to your energy level and not just the tasks that arise.
And … (Microinter) Action, Please!
While we those responsible ultimately decide which workplace style is best for their own company, employees should have opportunities in many places to give feedback or take things into their own hands. Companies plan to work and collaborate for the next few weeks, and after the COVID era, they should say goodbye to the old status quo. A rethinking of the workplace design or the introduction of new forms of work should lead to an ideal result for both sides: To be able to achieve the optimal concentration for deep work and at the same time to improve cooperation and cohesion by paying enough attention to the critical social cement, which is the described micro-interactions.
My conclusion: the transition to a distributed work environment has created a new paradigm. Work and private life are more closely interwoven than ever before, so companies should also develop new forms of work, products, and experiences that help their users and employees to cope well with this new work reality. The course has been set, and the first steps have already been taken. Now it’s time to focus on the finer points because they turn a good thing into something vast and plentiful.