How Bonds and Bridges Matter in Distributed Work Settings

Bridge of a river

As we envisioned and built DemoHop, we learned about the two types of relationships that exist in every organization.

The first type revolves around our core team and daily colleagues. Social scientists refer to these connections as “bonding” or “strong-tie” relationships. They play a crucial role in enhancing productivity and getting work done.

The second type encompasses our extended relationships within the organization, which drive innovation, inspiration, and overall workplace happiness. Social scientists and experts in organizational behavior label these connections as “bridging” or “weak-tie” relationships.

As we ramped up on these academics, it confirmed our initial intuition that modern distributed workplaces excel at nurturing bonding relationships but often overlook bridging relationships.

Consider the range of tools at our disposal, from video calling to collaboration and messaging platforms. These are all effective at facilitating and strengthening the bonds within our core teams, but they do little for introducing and encouraging new and more distant workplace connections. There is no serendipity to them.

However, when it comes to bridging relationships, the options are limited. The best available solution is to arrange all-team or company events that require flying people in. Unfortunately, such events tend to be expensive, logistically complex, and infrequent in most companies. Alternatively, we are left with large online meetings where most participants are relegated to the role of observers, with little opportunity to engage or meet others.

As leaders, when we become fluent in this language of relationships, it quickly becomes  shorthand to translate the words bonding into “productivity” and bridging into “innovation”. And that’s when something doesn’t sound right.

No business leader would willingly ignore the importance of innovation. However, by failing to provide adequate means to cultivate bridging relationships within and across our organizations, we inadvertently overlook this crucial need.

It is precisely this need for better bridging in distributed workplaces that inspired us to create DemoHop as an Enterprise Serendipity Engine. By investing in better bridging, you can expect to unlock more innovation, creativity, and a happier workforce.