Workplaces Experience Eroding Connection, Collaboration, Alignment

The shift to remote and hybrid work has resulted in “the great disconnect,” in which workers feel less connected to their colleagues and employees are falling behind, according to NovoEd research released today. The survey of 500 senior management, middle management and individual contributors found 54 percent reported feeling less connected than before the pandemic.

Senior managers fared well with their interpersonal connections, with 80 percent feeling connected to middle managers and 74 percent feeling connected to individual contributors. However, the great disconnect has affected lower-level employees on the front lines of executing the organization’s strategy the most. Less than half (43 percent) of individual contributors and only 50 percent of middle managers feel connected to their senior managers.

“Leadership’s top priority is to keep their people connected and motivate people to move in the same direction toward a shared set of objectives,” said Christina Yu, learning technology executive, NovoEd. “But in today’s disconnected workplace, achieving that strategic imperative is even more difficult when we’re not always in the same room.”

Eroding connections also are affecting goal alignment, the survey found. Six in ten (65 percent) of senior managers feel connected to their company and aligned with common goals, yet just 42 percent of middle managers and individual contributors feel the same.

Compounding these connection and alignment problems is the fact that two-thirds (66 percent) of business leaders and team members work in an organization that requires them to collaborate with coworkers differently today than they did in 2019. This poses difficulties for organizations because they are challenged to develop, upskill and reskill their employees to not only keep up but, ideally, to surge ahead.

Learning and development (L&D) has paid the price in today’s disconnected workplace. Less than a third (31 percent) of all respondents feel their organization provides a great deal of support for learning new skills and expanding their professional capabilities and goals. In addition, four in ten (42 percent) feel their organization has not enhanced L&D over the past two-plus years.

“Teams struggling to achieve connectedness require different ways of collaboration and learning or they will become dysfunctional,” said Yu. “The workforce needs a reboot on learning and development with a focus on deep capabilities. Remote and hybrid work itself is not the problem. The right technology can provide powerful opportunities for learners to link up and learn new skills and capabilities – both synchronously and asynchronously and at their own pace.”

NovoEd surveyed 500 U.S. full-time employees across three different functions: senior management, middle management and individual contributors between May and June of 2022. The survey report can be found here.

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