With most of us working at home, interaction and relations with colleagues change. Both employees and managers are facing serious challenges in staying connected, engaged and productive. There’s a major role for formal and informal relations in tackling those challenges.

Why informal networks matter more than company hierarchy

Figures show we are collaborating 85% of our working time in one way or another. This increasing connectivity calls for the importance of managing relations (social capital) as much as skills (human capital). But with the current situation, there are lots of additional questions poppin’ up:

  • Is my team collaborating effectively?
  • How can I keep my team connected?
  • How can we respond quickly to questions and policies, even when we’re not together?

Especially in these times of crisis, you want to inform people quickly, effectively and continuously. Instead of relying on gut feeling and organisational charts, companies therefore need a way to uncover the social relations and informal networks of the working place in order to better understand the needs of the organisation.

Mapping networks: the organisational network analysis

This is where the organisational network analysis (ONA) comes into play: a set of techniques to study the informal connections and information flows between people, teams, departments and even whole organisations. With ONA, social relations are illustrated, revealing critical positions and collaboration patterns that are often in stark contrast with what is expected or desired by management. For example, with ONA you can identify key opinion leaders: those people with high reach and informal influence in the remote virtual network. They are the eyes and ears of what really lives among the employees. Involving them in communication will maximize efficiency and understanding among employees.

With ONA, social relations are illustrated, revealing critical positions and collaboration patterns.

How does ONA contribute to my company’s agility in these volatile times?

Above example illustrates the power of an organisational network analysis. But there’s more to ONA than meets the eye:

  • It’s a good measurement for social connectivity: the tool supports you with keeping the team together in times of remote working and can prevent employee isolation. Some employees might struggle with all the virtual tools, or new hires who are lacking the social relationships at work.
  • It’s a way to uncover those relations focussed on innovation. Every organisation has “innovation champions”: people who are highly involved in the optimization or the invention of products and services. They can play a crucial role in tackling the current crisis.
  • It can detect who’s at risk of collaborative overload and help in the prevention of burn-outs.
  • You gain a helicopter’s perspective on how your team performs and collaborates in a fully digital environment.
  • It can maximize alignment in your team by monitoring the effectiveness of your communication.

Interested in keeping your organisation connected, engaged and productive? Do you want to learn more about the different (informal) roles an employee can play? Contact us now and unlock the power of ONA. Send an e-mail to yin.oei@tomorrowlab.com and we get in touch soon!