Hybrid working has evolved office gossip – but not for the better

Hybrid working boasts numerous benefits, but not hanging out in person with colleagues is one of the downsides – and it’s a biggie. Microsoft’s recent Work Trend Index, published in September, found that 85% of 20,006 employees in 11 countries, including the U.S. and U.K., would be motivated to head to the office to rebuild team bonds. Clearly, there is a yearning for that social connection. After all, how do remote workers stay in the loop and share gossip?

Gossiping, like socializing, is human nature. And in the workplace, gossiping is crucial to learn about company dynamics and forging friendships with colleagues. Essentially, gossiping helps navigate – and perhaps influence – office politics and gain guidance, validation and respect. But office gossip is not what it used to be.

According to Dr. Alexandra Dobra-Kiel, head of behavioral research and insight at London consultancy Behave, gossiping serves four functions: information exchange, social integration, ego enhancement and social segregation. She pointed out that the first two are positive but the remaining two are the opposite.

Salt Lake City-based Bryan Stallings, the chief evangelist at Lucid Software, a company that offers a visual collaboration suite, stressed that bias is at the core of much of the gossip that happens in offices. “This may occur even more today with hybrid work.” Indeed, for hybrid and remote workers, assumptions are formed on the barest of information “because we’re separated and only see faces across screens,” he said. “With hybrid work, we experience a new kind of distance that, unless resolved through new work practices, can interrupt information sharing, decrease transparency, and ultimately erode trust.”

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in December 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Published by

Oliver Pickup

Multi-award-winning writer, content editor, ghostwriter, and TV and radio commentator (and occasional illustrator), specialising in technology, blockchain, startups, business, sport and culture. Founder of Pickup Media Limited. Interviewer of death row prisoners, legendary athletes, influential leaders, tech trendsetters, and cultural pioneers. By-lined in every English newspaper. Contributor to dozens of multinational publications.

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