Once upon a time, (in the 1950s at MIT), a dormitory held the key to a groundbreaking concept: the Law of Propinquity. Scholars found that students who were neighbors formed tighter bonds, not because they were inherently friendlier, but due to their physical proximity. In addition, those who lived in rooms near staircases, lounges, and mailboxes had more friends in the building.
Fast forward to today, whether you're in your first job or a seasoned professional looking to connect more meaningfully, this law affects us all. It often morphs into what we call 'proximity bias,' where we unconsciously favor those physically closer to us. We can overcome this with people who work near us by taking the initiative to start a conversation with someone new. Or invite someone to lunch who you don't talk to often or work alongside regularly.
So, how then do we better connect with our colleagues who are not right in front of us? Let's unravel this for remote team members or those in other work locations.
Firstly, it's essential to understand that proximity bias exists. It's a sneaky little thing that can influence who we interact with and how often. Understanding this can help us make a conscious effort to reach out beyond our immediate physical environment.
Next, let's employ the magic of technology. Gone are the days when 'out of sight' meant 'out of mind.' With instant messaging, text, video calls, and collaborative online tools, we can make genuine connections no matter the miles that separate us. So, schedule that video chat coffee break with Sarah, who's working from another city.
Then comes the matter of effort. We must go the extra mile when we can't bump into someone in the break room. Remember to check in on your distant teammates, ask about their day, or share an interesting article. A little effort can go a long way in strengthening those bonds.
Finally, make it a point to celebrate the diversity that different locations bring to the team (even if those locations are your home offices). Different cultures, viewpoints, and experiences can lead to fantastic collaborations and innovation. Be the person who encourages this inclusion and celebrates the value of every teammate, no matter where they're based.
In a nutshell, the law of propinquity isn't a barrier; it's a challenge that we can overcome to form stronger, more genuine connections. Remember, every connection is a step towards personal growth and professional success.
The team at Deep End Talent Strategies is here to help you plan team building activities or simply script out a connection message!