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What does silo working mean, and how can your company overcome communication problems?

By Fern McErlane

What is silo working, or ‘working in silos’? 🏗️

Though silo working has cropped up as a popular label post-pandemic, this is not a new style of organisation for companies of all sizes. But what does it mean?

A silo is simply a department or team that intentionally works in isolation, dealing a big blow to both communication and productivity. The warning signs include delays in, or an overall lack of information sharing.

Feeling connected in fully or partially remote roles is crucial, something that ‘silo mentality’ can impact. Recent studies by Gallup show that 32% of people felt less connected to their organisation’s culture since moving into hybrid working styles.

Here at Basejam, we know companies aren’t built in a day, and changing your entire organisation structure can take time. So how can your organisation tackle silo working culture and keep employees feeling connected and happy?

Revamp your office spaces 💼

Thinking about your employees’ workspaces is a great place to start, as our environments are key for boosting engagement and comfort.

Encouraging natural communication in the workspace is key, as 70% of employees say friends at work is the most crucial element to a happy working life. Creating open, accessible spaces in your office where coworkers can chat and catch up is key for breaking through the silo mentality and beating isolation.

For both hybrid and fully remote roles, launching a home office makeover program at your company’s expense will go a long way towards ensuring workers are comfortable and engaged, which we’ve covered before here at Basejam.

Encourage and provide easy opportunities for networking 💬

Even small connections between remote coworkers - such as discussing projects, sharing ideas, networking and mentoring - are crucial.

Two-thirds of productivity leaders report that these ‘microtransactions’ increased during the pandemic, helping to boost productivity, according to insights from a McKinsey survey.

If you use communication tools like Slack, these platforms have a range of handy bots to set up ‘speed-networking’ chats - each employee can automatically be ‘matched’ with a new coworker from a different department each week, where they can network as much or as little as they like - no pressure here!

While some are happy to network on the clock, creating a sense of community outside the workplace shows employees you care about them beyond the work they produce.

Whether that be organising a fantasy football league, post-work drinks or a full-blown company retreat, team offsites help employees feel more connected to each other, the company, and their work.

Share feedback regularly 💬

Hybrid and remote working have created new challenges in discussing what’s working and what needs more attention; 19% of employees have noticed there are fewer opportunities for feedback since working from home.

When team leaders schedule time for regular feedback and check-ins, a sense of routine and accountability is offered to both sides.

Companies should also request feedback from their employees — an anonymous space to raise concerns without fear of repercussions from those higher up.

Set up regular company-wide events and retreats 🏖️

Remote and hybrid working can easily cause workers to feel disconnected to both their peers and their purpose. 60% of people are emotionally detached at work, according to stats from Gallup.

“Lots of the team were hired remotely, so they haven’t spent time together before,” said Lindsey from Storyterrace. “That means sometimes there’s misalignment, or maybe misinterpretations, until everyone meets face to face.”

Luckily, here at Basejam we can help your company navigate tricky-to-organise company meetups and retreats, from choosing a venue to planning team building activities.

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