Our Relationships Make Us Human. And they Make Work Better.

PART 2: Position Technology

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Remember that time your manager scolded you in an email? Or your boyfriend broke with you over text? It’s not the technology that hurts our relationships, it’s the way we use it that’s all wrong.

The second thing we need to do to create a human workplace is to position technology so that it strengthens our relationships instead of erodes them. We need to find that sweet spot between tech and connect.

One way to do that is to pause before you communicate something. Identify your goal and think about the best mode to get your message across. Send an email when you need an answer 
to something without much nuance, but move up the attention chain and pick up the phone or walk down the hall if you need to ask someone’s opinion, do some real problem solving, or want to truly connect with someone you haven’t seen in a while.

And please, if you have to say something sensitive about a person’s behavior or your relationship, by all means, take a deep breath and pick up the phone.

Likewise, if you want to forge a new working relationship, influence someone, or close a deal, make the time for some serious face-time (and yes, even Facetime can be a great connector!).

As a rule of (texting) thumb—match the medium to the message. The higher the stakes, the more we invest.

Airbnb’s tagline is “Belong Anywhere.” So I was not surprised when I learned that every year or two the company invests in bringing all of its people together for some in-real-life belonging over food and fun.

Something like this is pretty easy to pull off as a startup, but how do you do maximize your ROI (and these things aren’t cheap) with over 3,000 people?

By honoring relationships, that’s how.

Airbnb’s team created an algorithm to break down its employees into “troops” of six people who were not likely to know one another. Then they made it easy for “troop members” to connect throughout the conference—grabbing their badges together and sitting together at the opening keynote. And at the end of the event, the troop sat together at the 3,000-person “family dinner.”

There’s nothing more valuable than togetherness like that.

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