In a recent piece published in the HR Exchange Network, Michael Arena, co-founder of the Connected Commons, explains how leaders can account for the negative impacts of a remote working environment. Specifically, Arena details how to overcome the "Neighborhood Effect," a phenomenon where organizations have become more clustered — and teams more siloed — over time due to the deterioration of "bridging" connections between groups.
In order to begin repairing an organization's network, leaders should establish formal bridging mechanisms that facilitate collaboration and communication across teams.
Leaders may also bring together those in their organization that have more inter-team connections to increase idea generation and alignment. However, organizations must work to ensure that individuals with these connections do not become overloaded with collaborative demands by routinely realigning responsibilities within their teams.
Lastly, successful organizations leverage their leaders' social equity to maintain connectedness. As it is much easier to activate "dormant" bridge connections than to establish new ones, effective leaders help to rebuild connections that may have been lost during the pandemic.
"As new hybrid working models emerge, understanding the implications of the neighborhood effect will continue to be essential," Arena concludes. "Social fragmentation will challenge both the breadth and depth of work. As a result, it is imperative that we discover whatever we can from the few positive deviance cases that exist. The future of work depends on it."
Read more from Michael Arena in Starling's 2022 Compendium, wherein he contributed a Peer Perspectives piece entitled "Organizational Culture is Caught, Not Taught."