The rise of flexible and remote working, as well as virtual teams, has disrupted the way companies organise their staff and work. Whilst the traditional 9-to-5 hasn’t disappeared completely, it has shifted significantly to create working environments that are more concerned with their employees’ work/life balance and levels of productivity.
But is it possible to have a team of employees who work remotely to work harmoniously across different projects and clients? The simple answer is though it’s accompanied with a caveat: onsite office visits. Whichever way this new approach to work is spun, building and maintaining relationships needs to be at the top of everyone’s agenda. How to do this? Research points to onsite office visits and here at LEO, providers of luxury serviced offices, we agree. Find out why below.
Onsite vs offsite: what’s the difference?
Offsite visits are typically where a team briefly meets before commencing a project, goes through the introductions and maybe some planning tasks. It’s a quick affair that sometimes falls short of its intended aims.
Onsite visits, in contrast, are where team members spend some time actually working alongside their collaborators for periods of the project’s duration. It’s a more structured and protracted process that nevertheless a study has found to yield much more positive results.
Why Onsite Visits Work Best
Whilst distributed and virtual teams and the individual flexibility that’s often afforded tend to be beneficial in many ways, researches have nevertheless found that there is more interpersonal conflict, and it’s longer lasting, compared to collocated teams. What does this mean and why might this be the case? That’s a pretty simple one to understand – distance and lack of in-person communication lead to misunderstandings and issues not being dealt with in a timely fashion. This raises concerns for projects with tight deadlines or demanding clients, where the presentation of a united front is crucial.
Spontaneous communication, it was found, plays a vital role in the coherency of teams and quality of work. It’s the moments where someone pops by someone’s desk or runs into them by the coffee machine that lead to great work. This led to a stronger sense of shared identity and shared context for the mission of the work undertaken, and that’s hardly something anyone can scoff at!
Now, let’s dig into these findings a little further; there are three main reasons why onsite visits are more beneficial than offsites.
- Having briefly touched on communication, it bears looking into this point further. Onsites make discussing work more organic that would otherwise have to be mediated by meetings, technology, and scheduling. This leads to a more transparent approach to, and a deeper understanding of, work at hand.
- The second reason is socialisation and personal interaction that’s once again allowed to flourish more authentically. The kind of understanding that develops between employees who work together cannot be replicated over a messaging app or a series of long emails. A sense of how to collaborate and complement each other’s strengths and weakness is invaluable to teams of any size and workplaces need to encourage situations that facilitate it.
- Finally, it’s all about context. Developing an understanding of a working environment, hierarchies, and collaborators just aren’t possible through a screen. But context is vital to the quality of output and to employees’ sense of belonging. A high level of anxiety can often be present when working with new people that stifles their ability to ask and discuss difficult topics, stalling progress in return.
How to Facilitate Onsite Visits
Bringing people together can be a difficult task so compromises must be made. The frequency of onsite visits is up for debate and there’s definitely value in the more generally ‘social’ visits. Particular effort to bring people together, however, should be made at the start of big projects and when new employees join the roost. After all, what truly matters to all employees is a personal connection and an understanding of each others’ style of work that will inevitably facilitate more cohesive and higher quality work.
Serviced offices and meetings rooms make this a possibility as you’re able to occupy an office space for as long you need or simply book your team in for a series of meetings in a room with all the facilities you may need. LEO is here to help should you decide to see how onsites can improve the morale and quality of your team’s work.