63 percent of employees are socializing less with their colleagues because of COVID-19, according to a survey by B2B review platform Clutch. This is despite companies making increasing efforts to provide them with communication tools and socialization opportunities: 65 percent of companies have held at least one virtual team culture event since the start of the pandemic, and 26 percent have increased employees' access to communication technology in the past month.
This suggests that the events are unable to compensate for the lack of interaction during the rest of the working day, and that employees are for whatever reason not taking advantage of the accessibility provided by the communication tools. Survey respondents indicated one problem might be that people no longer have the option to strike up random conversations away from their desks.
On the other hand, the survey also found that most employees have not lost access to their managers. 52 percent of respondents said their direct manager's availability has not changed since the pandemic started, while 29 percent actually said their boss was more available than before. While the survey does not provide a basis for evaluating the actual as well as comparative availability of managers, it does indicate that companies are doing a relatively good job in maintaining access to the bosses.
Given the mismatch between companies' efforts and the actual results for employees, it is doubtful whether socialization levels when working from home can ever match the same levels as when working from the office. But with virtual events such as happy hours, activities, or simply having meals together on a video call, some aspects of physical interaction can at least be partly duplicated.