Eight emerging themes

Eight emerging themes: Socialisation and belonging


A major motivation for many to work or to take a particular job for a particular employer is naturally pay, but there are many other reasons influencing people’s choices. One factor is the socialisation of work and sense of belonging.

Lockdown and homeworking have demonstrated for many the importance of the social interaction at work. While homeworking has been surprisingly successful for many, some have been desperate to get back to the workplace and be with people again face to face. Video calls are an effective means of communicating and will play an important role in future workplace communication, but the in-person contact many have missed will be valued even more highly than before. Loneliness and mental health issues have soared over the last 18 months, with lasting challenges both for employers and society as a whole.

Employers will also benefit as socialisation enhances a sense of “team” and belonging which is crucial for business success. Socialisation is also important in enabling people to acquire the strong interpersonal skills necessary for many jobs. In some cases, however, geographically fragmented workforces with teams split between home and office and between different locations (even different countries) will make generating the desired sense of team and belonging more difficult. For employers, nurturing this notion of belonging will mean developing and communicating a shared vision.

The need to adapt to accommodate the human need for socialisation will not just impact on the world of work. Shops, looking to compete with online retailers, will look to replicate what some booksellers having been doing for a while and provide an amenable space for people to meet. Universities will need to adapt to the growth in online learning by providing an environment in which students can grow their personal selves and flourish.

For office workers, at least, the purpose of the communal workplace will change. With many workers who were based in the office before Covid-19 now working mainly or partly from home, the motivation for going into work will be different. In some cases time spent together in person will no doubt be important for collaboration and innovation, but it may well be the socialisation from working together that will drive many to the office. Employers will need to configure office spaces to embrace this shift.