Change environment and change behaviours – face to face and virtual

I moved house recently and it made me reflect on how a new physical environment makes it
easier to change behaviors.

One small example – we normally eat quite early on a Sunday and often have family around. When we moved we started thinking why we
did this and it seems it dates from the time when the kids were small and couldn’t wait any longer; it became traditional and it was only when we moved and started to re-evaluate lots of our routines that we realized it. Our kids are now in their mid-20s.

We chose and are redesigning our new place to encourage the behaviors and lifestyle we want in the next stage of our lives.

I was talking to a colleague who is working with a large organization who are currently moving to a new head office. They are taking the opportunity to change culture and language and making a big point about not bringing certain behaviors and language from the old office to the new.

So a change of physical environment gives us a sense of a “new start” and the design of that environment can also encourage new behaviors, such as when companies introduce informal meeting areas and “high streets” in their new buildings to encourage more informal meetings.

The effect is also psychological as an existing environment reinforces existing ways of doing things and can inhibit change – either through design or just ingrained habits and routines.

But how do we create that same effect in our virtual meetings and communities? Do we need to freshen up the design and make some radical changes in the appearance and conduct of our online interactions?

It’s likely that a dry online environment with low levels of participation will lead to entrenched behaviors and poor quality meetings and discussions. Maybe we need to “move house”, change the environment, behaviors and routines at the same time.

Next time you update or change your collaboration technology take the opportunity to work on your online culture to create higher levels of engagement.

If you would like to find out how other companies have created more engagement in virtual meetings please give us a call.

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