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Keep it Social: Why Connecting with Your Colleagues Matters

In 2020, we launched our NETCONOMY Social Club – a program that kept our people connected during the pandemic by letting us organize and enjoy remote events together. Today, the club offers regular online and in-person events that support our well-being, drive knowledge-sharing, and bring us together as a team. In this article, we’ll outline why initiatives like this are crucial in keeping your teams connected and your company culture alive.

We believe in letting people live their life flexibly regarding when and from where they work.  Our team of 500 people is free to decide whether they work best from one of our offices, their home, or a mix of both – with only a small window when we should all be active together.

In 2022 we fully embraced the flexible working models, which meant we started working with colleagues from countries we did not have a presence in. The biggest benefit of this approach is the space it gives us to organize our lives according to individual needs – from wrapping up early to pick up kids from school or starting late if we need that extra hour of sleep, to being able to move to a new city without changing jobs.

But this freedom also brings a new challenge: how to build personal relationships, even friendships, in such a distributed workforce.

Companies will have to show adaptability and fresh ideas if they want to build and maintain a strong company culture and relationships among colleagues without them meeting by chance during coffee breaks or in the office corridor.

 In this blog, we will explore why we should build good interpersonal relationships at work and outline our approach to fostering connectivity in our distributed team setting.

The Power of Workplace Connections 

Interpersonal relationships have a direct effect on the culture of an organization. A study by CPP, Inc. shows that 60-80% of conflicts in the workplace are rooted in strained relationships among employees.

Consequently, fostering and building good interpersonal relationships can have a significant positive impact on the overall functioning of an organization. Here’s why:

  • We humans are social beings by nature. And since we spend a big chunk of our lives at work, it’s clear that having positive relationships with our colleagues can make our jobs more enjoyable. We need people around that appreciate our hard work and motivate us from time to time. Or even that one workplace “bestie” with whom we can share our secrets fearing them getting leaked.
  • When we feel comfortable around our colleagues, we become more confident in expressing our opinions, brainstorming ideas, and accepting new concepts. This teamwork is crucial for embracing change, fostering creativity, and driving innovation. And when we witness the positive outcomes of working together, it boosts morale and productivity within the entire group.
  • Having good work relationships also brings us freedom. Instead of wasting time and energy dealing with negative relationships, we can focus on grabbing opportunities, like developing ourselves further.

At NETCONOMY, we know just how vital interpersonal relationships are. So we focus on connecting our employees and giving them a space where they can get to know each other and spend time together outside of work. This includes team-building activities, team dinners, or cross-department milestone events to celebrate joint achievements.

NETCONOMY People at team-building activities

The Start of the NETCONOMY Social Club

Even before the pandemic, our teams were used to remote work as we adopted a distributed setup long ago. Our internal ‘Distributed Collaboration Clan’ always kept an eye out for the latest trends in remote working – so when the pandemic forced everyone to work from home, we had all the tools, processes, and the right mindset to be a successful and productive distributed team.

What we were missing, however, was that feeling of togetherness. We didn’t get to know new colleagues in person during onboarding, didn’t see each other at teambuilding events, or had spontaneous conversations during coffee breaks.

And the same was true for socializing with people from other offices since trips to other locations, as well as our yearly company parties, were paused for the foreseeable future. So we asked ourselves – how can we bring our people together and foster connectivity without being in the same room?

The answer was our NETCONOMY Social Club – a program that offered our people virtual activities in five different categories aimed at supporting their mental and physical well-being as well as keeping them connected by participating in fun events together:

The original categories of the NC Social Club: Know, Health, Play, Grow, Taste

  • Know: Events in the Know category aimed at driving knowledge sharing around non-work-related topics. Everybody with a side interest or a hobby they thought might be interesting could plan a “Know Event” and find like-minded people. There were no limits to creativity – everything was included, from the use of 3D printers to special biotechnologies!
  • Health: The Health category was fully dedicated to the well-being of our colleagues. For physical health, we offered weekly remote sports sessions such as pilates or yoga, as well as nutrition workshops and meetings with physiotherapists. In addition, we held mental health workshops around topics such as burnout prevention, self-management, resilience exercises, as well as meditation sessions.
  • Play: Play Events were focused entirely on fun. We hosted Game Nights, where teams participated in Quiz Nights, Escape rooms, or Pictionary sessions.
  • Grow: Grow events contributed to the continuing education of individuals or teams. Colleagues could join internal or external workshops such as presentation training sessions, hackathons, CodingDoJos, and innovation talks. For bookworms, there was a weekly gathering of the NETCONOMY book club. Also, team leads could organize their own events with a partner company that specializes in remote team-building events.
  • Taste: Under the Taste category, we offered regular cooking or baking sessions, with either professionals demonstrating a special recipe or colleagues from different locations sharing a yummy dish from their home.

NETCONOMY Social Club 2.0

As the effects of the pandemic receded and restrictions were lifted, we realized our people loved this format since it was a great way to stay connected with colleagues from different countries. That’s why we decided not only to maintain the NETCONOMY Social Club but to expand it. Today, our Social Club team organizes remote events open to anyone. However, we also offer in-person events that are held at or near our locations.

A big part of this success were our people, without whom we could never pull this off. The team driving the NETCONOMY Social Club meets every week to discuss new initiatives and formats. Our colleague Desiree is part of this team, and in her role as Technical Trainer and location manager in Vienna she has a strong focus on fostering an environment of lifelong learning and exchange among her peers:

They also work on promoting the events internally, providing information on what they are about, how to sign up, and who else is coming. But that’s not the end – all NETCONOMY employees are invited to contribute and pitch their ideas for upcoming events – making this a truly company-wide effort.

 Of course, we have developed and adapted our social club according to the needs of our colleagues over time. The categories have been revised or partially merged, and now offer both old and new formats in three areas:

  • Connect: Connect events allow colleagues to meet and engage in joint activities outside of work either directly in the offices – like the “Pizza and More parties” where people can enjoy food, board games, billiard, or Mario Cart – or excursions to kart racing tracks or arcades.
  • Health: Health events are still all about our employee’s well-being, with a strong focus on physical activities. There are weekly activities like playing soccer together, or one-time trips to a specific destination – like our recent hike in the Eisenerz Alps. We try to ensure that the destination can be easily reached by public transport and motivate colleagues to form carpools and travel together. Also, the Social Club drives and supports participation in running events, such as the Vienna Relay Marathon or the South Styria Triathlon.
  • Grow: The Grow Category features all former “Know” and “Grow” events – including everything that falls under knowledge sharing and personal development. The last events in this series were a CodingDojo at our CX Innovation Hub in Vienna and remote Philosophy Corners for curious minds to discuss philosophical topics without prior knowledge.

We understand the importance of nurturing relationships within our team, especially in a distributed work environment, and believe that positive interpersonal connections directly impact our organization’s culture and overall functioning. That’s why we will continue to evolve and expand our NETCONOMY Social Club, driven by the dedication and creativity of our team members and the active participation of our entire workforce. If you want to be part of this team and support us on our way, check out our job openings.


Authors and Contributors

Emilia Stöckler | Junior Marketing Manager, NETCONOMY

Emilia focuses on employer branding content by combining her Content Strategy studies and practical experience. She works with colleagues from across the organization to capture stories that show the human side of NETCONOMY and highlight why it is a great place to work.