In The Innovators, Walter Isaacson argues that collaboration is the key that unlocked all great innovations. When people have conversations, things move.
At Invisible, we impart our innovative spirit and vision of the future of work in everything we do. As we usher in the evolution of how work is outsourced and automated, we’re also looking forward to a future where work isn’t constrained to cubicles and conference rooms.
That’s why we’re leading by example.
While influential business leaders are touting a return to corporate offices, we’re a remote-only company with partners and agents in 36 countries. We have no central headquarters, no fancy office buildings, no high-tech conference rooms.
Instead of shared walls to boost team performance, we’ve invested in memorable experiences amongst partners to foster the spirit of collaboration. In fact, we recently gathered the partnership in Costa Rica for 8 days.
Our goal when we invest in experiences is to improve our teamwork. We think you should try it, too.
To test our theory, we surveyed 665 employed Americans to get their take on shared experiences with their co-workers. Almost 71% of those we surveyed said they had attended a group experience hosted by their employer. Bravo!
Here’s what the experts say:
First, Harvard Professor Amy Edmonson argues teaming is a function of information sharing, perspective taking, and turn-taking, which are habits critical to trust behaviors.
Why is trust so important? Stephen R. Covey writes in The Speed of Trust, “Teams and organizations that operate with high trust significantly outperform those who don’t.”
Using Professor Edmonson’s framework, one way to share information and promote trust through a group experience is storytelling. Our CEO Francis Pedraza did so at our Costa Rica retreat by sharing business performance and goals through the medium of a play he wrote. Every partner had a part.
Our survey results concur with Professor Edmonson’s argument: 70% of workers report trusting their co-workers more after a group experience hosted by their employer.
Second, it helps people meet work friends, which are statistically correlated with performance and retention and only made through informal sharing and close physical proximity and shared memories.
Invisible partner Olivia Chiong wrote about the company’s off-site in Costa Rica in a recent blog. Olivia said about the trip, “I gained so much in this wonderful week that even a month after it, I’m still buzzing from the post event high. I learned some things about myself and so much about my co-workers.”
“The connections made during the on-site are already bearing fruit," Olivia noted.
We learned in our survey that having strong relationships with co-workers matters to over 68% of working Americans. Most reported feeling more engaged in their work when they have strong relationships with co-workers.
Third, it creates a context that normalizes small acts of vulnerability and creates psychological safety. Not like sharing your darkest secrets, but sharing the details of a challenging company decision, or even what gives you personal meaning.
Olivia concluded that aside from the fun activities like kayaking and animal sanctuary tours, “[there] were many real conversations that detailed our plans and vision for the company and how we can work together to achieve our moonshot.”
Investment in shared experiences over shared walls goes beyond improved teamwork – it impacts the bottom line.
Let’s do the math.
We referenced in a previous blog post a study detailing the cost of keeping employees at the office, which can be up to $11,000 a year for every employee. On the other hand, an impactful yearly corporate retreat would cost your company between $2,000 and $7,000 per employee.
With workers returning with a renewed sense of team, we’d argue that the ROI for the shared experience is much higher.
Another cost is turnover.
We learned in our survey that a staggering 76% of workers felt more engaged in their work after a group experience hosted by their employer. Engaged employees are more likely to stay in your organization, which can save you thousands in turnover costs.
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