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Guest Writer
July 28, 2016

A plea for more connection in the workplace

Happy Thursday! Today we're introducing our very first guest blog, written by Tom Laterveer & Hagar Michel from Animo. Animo is a Berlin-based organizational happiness and teamwork firm that facilitates, trains and consults companies in building an organization people love to work for.

Most of us spend more time at the office than anywhere else. There is no activity we spend more time on than working (besides maybe sleeping) — meaning that during their careers, most people see more of their colleagues than of their partners, friends and children combined.

And yet, when we speak to clients on how to make the most out of their offsite, they invariably tell us that one of their most important goals for the team is to get to know each other better.


Spending time does not equal good relationships

How can it be that people who spend so much time together still feel the need to go out to a remote location to get to know each other? The answer is simple: not the quantity of time spent together counts, but the quality of it. And that quality is usually much lower than it needs to be.


"not the quantity of time spent together counts, but the quality of it."


The harsh truth is that offices worldwide are ridden with people who are clueless to what is going on in the hearts and minds of their direct co-workers. What really matters to your co-worker? What are her hopes, her dreams, and her fears? What does she need, right now, to feel okay and have a good day? Most people haven’t got a clue, even if they’ve spent hundreds of hours talking to each other. Besides this dynamic being sad and unnecessary, we argue that it is amongst the biggest hurdles for organizational performance in today’s workplace.


"The harsh truth is that offices worldwide are ridden with people who are clueless to what is going on in the hearts and minds of their direct co-workers."


Teams whose members spend a considerable amount of time playing ‘hide and seek’ quickly become disconnected, disengaged and ultimately dysfunctional. They form a culture where ‘keeping up appearances’ becomes more important than getting good work done — driving fear of failure, perfectionism and ego-centric behaviour. Tensions build up, internal competition goes up, and cooperation and company goals move to the background.

Though some may argue that in some teams disconnection and internal competition may actually fuel performance (think of a sales team where its members work independently in different locations with hard sales-targets), the reality is that this dynamic is killing for 99% of the teams. In a time where innovation and networking matters more than ever before, knowing how to stay connected in a human way has become one of the most valuable workplace skills.

‍Photo by Dominik Tryba


"Feeling connected to your fellow humans even makes you physically and psychologically healthier."

The benefits of connection

Studies show that connected teams outperform their competitors in all important areas: productivity, motivation, commitment, organizational citizenship, engagement, innovation and effectiveness. If you’ve ever worked in an engaged, well-connected team, you know this. If you’ve worked in a toxic, disconnected team, you know it too.

Feeling connected to your fellow humans even makes you physically and psychologically healthier. Studies show that your cognitive functions work better, it’s easier to learn new things, and your creativity and judgement in complex issues improves significantly.

Kindergarten skills

It is no wonder the ‘no asshole rule’ has been making so much waves in organizations lately. Recruitment is briefed to ‘hire for attitude, and train for skill’, and queries new candidates for their ‘kindergarten skills’— the ability to share, care for others and work with others in a peaceful, energizing way.


Wondering how to create a surrounding where these kindergarten skills can flourish? Got inspired to create more connection in your workplace? Here's Hagar & Tom’s next insightful article ‘Five ways to create more connection in the workplace’.

Make your first step in coworking today! Here you can find out more about how to do that in betahaus.

Toni: Currently, we’ve somehow ended up in this niche of building a lot of internal tools for startups and teams. But this is not the only thing we want to do. What I like about it is that we’re starting projects from scratch and we have full control over them. 

Martin: The first project we worked on was a tool for a large scale real estate development company. What they needed was a tool for their Sales people - to be able to mark their different spots and locations at different stages of the sales funnel. So we created a tool that helps them in this process.

Toni: And this one actually served as a starting point for the tool we’ve developed for  betahaus, which aims to allow the Sales and Management team to see which team rooms are occupied right now, which ones are free or will be occupied in a few weeks or months, so no double bookings appear. 

Alex: These two projects were more focused on real estate, let’s say, but we’ve also done more design-heavy projects like the one we did for Artique which is an online artists agency. For them, we built a whole website and an online system to present their artists starting only from their logo. It had to be very flexible, because the artists needed to be able to edit their own profiles, putting their resume, changing colours.

Toni: Honestly, we have skillsets that you don’t usually find in developers. Because we've had lives that were not just about computer science. I think to some extent this is what makes us different. 

Martin: I believe one of the reasons why people pick us over other studios is because it can be very hard working with developers. If you’re not understanding their work, if the communication is not flowing, you, as a client can feel lost. We're easy to communicate with and we’re always open to feedback and we're open to discuss anything. In the end, after all iterations, if you say we need to start the website from scratch and that you don’t like the idea, we won’t take it personally. 

Alex: Also, I think, since we all work as coding teachers, we are officially qualified to explain what coding is to people who don't code, which is actually really rare because a lot of developers, as Martin says, don't want to, or literally just don't know how to articulate what they're doing. Whereas we are trained in articulating what it is that we're doing, why it's meaningful and why it takes a certain amount of time.

Photo by Lea GK

Alex: Zimt & Mehl - the Turkish bakery around the corner. It’s just soo good.

Martin: Oh, there is this Italian restaurant called Ristorante del Arte

Tony: Oh, my God, this place is so funny. It looks like a pretty average Italian restaurant, but the whole interior design inside is just decorated in such a weird way. The entire place is covered in frescoes. They have crystal chandeliers and Easter bunnies. Some Greek columns. It has a different name on the menu, on the side and on the Internet. And it was an ex-shoe-store.

Want to get in touch with Obst Digital? Come around betahaus | Neukölln and meet them here or send them an email to contact@obst.digital !


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