This article is a part of the series initiated by Ralf Otto and Adrien Vercaempst co-founder of HiCircular. This initiative highlights the factors that contribute to a successful transition into the circular economy. Until now we have seen through concrete examples how to initiate intrinsic motivation within a team, but also the importance of cross-functional collaboration.
In the previous article, we have seen two elements that create sustainable collaboration. However, before this collaboration can take place, it is necessary to create a suitable environment so that the collaborators involved can connect with each other.
In this article, we want to highlight the importance of creating the right conditions for your collaborators within your team and how to create the right environment for these conditions during a transition towards a Circular Economy.
What do we mean by conditions to connect?
Concretely, conditions are a set of elements that constitute the favorable framework for connecting people to each other. Here are 6 conditions that allow people to connect with each other :
1. Invest in spaces
Whether it is a physical or virtual space, this space must be pleasant, adapted, and reserved for your employees. Several studies have shown that spaces dedicated to employees, spaces for discussion are linked to issues of health at work. They allow the co-construction of meaning at work or the construction of identity at work (1).
2. Develop trust
Trust within relationships is important to create and maintain the connection between people. Spend time building trusting relationships with conditions, such as confidentiality, to protect and build trust with your employees.
3. Take into account the time factor
It is important to take time because each person creates relationships at their own rhythm. Moreover, if your employees are under pressure, they will not be able to build a relationship.
4. Act with a common goal
People need to have a shared awareness of the benefits of connecting people because connecting just for the sake of it will not endure over time. On the other hand, explicitly linking this connection to a common goal, incentives, and recognition leads to sustainability.
5. Dedicate moments to connect
There is a time to work and a time to strengthen or create a bond. Meetings or events are opportunities to get together at a specific time. These occasions can be used for employees to meet members of other departments.
What do you need to take care of if you are initiating circular action?
The transition to circularity is a process that is lived in a community. Each participant must be involved in this process in order for the transition to take place quickly and efficiently. To ensure this circular initiation action, it is necessary to consider two dimensions: facilitating through values and leadership.
First of all, to facilitate in the framework of circular action is to make it less difficult, to make it easier. According to several authors (2), values are one of the founding elements for creating a relationship, creating relationships between people particularly when we want to initiate our employees in a project. Therefore, we need to take into account the values to facilitate the connections between people.
Values are the foundation for connecting people together.
The values are different from one individual to another. They transmit what is important in the life of the person and they are considered a motivating factor for behavior. Values can have a significant influence on behavior, especially when it comes to change.
In general, values that can reflect both intrinsic values are associated with concerns about matters greater than oneself. They result in a great motivation to act in accordance with the community or environment. In particular, issues related to the circular economy are considered to be a topic that concerns us all as a community as they impact our lives (private and professional). While extrinsic values are related to power, wealth, or social recognition.
Finally, leadership is a type of power where one person has the ability to influence or change the values, beliefs, behaviors, and attitudes of another person. In a circular initiative, it is essential to have a person of reference. Within a company, ambassadors are the people who possess strong leadership. Having an ambassador with leadership qualities is an asset in creating the conditions to connect people. They have the strength to influence others to achieve the goals and objectives of the organization.
Ambassadors with leadership qualities have the role of bringing people together around a common goal.
We can take as an example the results of a study (3) that focused on the identification and evaluation of critical success factors in the business development strategy of a circular economy practice. The factors “leadership and top management commitment” are positioned first. This indicates the importance of this success factor for the implementation of circular economy practices in the supply chains in the leather industry.
In addition, they are effective leaders because they give clear direction to their employees, and they get employees to engage in their work and work as a group to achieve the goals and objectives of the organization (4).
How do you do this practically?
These conditions will be the basis for improving communication within your community, especially at work, but also your benchmark in your change process towards the circular economy.
For example, the WWF organization has chosen to improve its corporate culture by creating a transparent and collaborative space and a global community around the organization’s different values. Using Workplace’s collaboration tools, offices and teams were able to get on the same page and create a new way of working together. Indeed, through inter-company groups, the WWF organization works more effectively with its internal members and external stakeholders. Previously, the organization found it difficult to establish rapid collaboration with its partners. To solve this problem, they are using a platform to share files and updates instantly, which allows for real-time dissemination and reaction (5).
During the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, a national oil company (6) decided to adapt to the health restrictions by putting its employees to work remotely. This new way of working was essential to keeping operations running and driving collaboration across the company. With over 50000 employees this company chooses to invest in a collaboration platform that allows people to connect, communicate and collaborate. To prepare employees for the transition from face-to-face to remote work across communication using multiple channels and through the use of multiple tools that include a hotline, chatbot, and learning portal.
In summary, several conditions are favorable to connect people at work: having a space adapted and reserved for employees, acting together towards a clear and common goal led by an ambassador, develop a relationship of trust between the people involved, and plan a time to connect and share together, taking into account the rhythm of each person in this process.
To put these conditions in place, you must first invest in communication support tools, online platforms. For example, the airline company Air France (7) uses the internal newspaper which is a participative communication and collaboration tool. Like a newsletter, it highlights the company’s culture, brings together the latest news, and gives a voice to the internal teams (8). Make sure you communicate your goal and its benefits so that as many employees as possible are aware of it.
These conditions allow employees to develop professional relationships and especially to adopt the circular initiative, this is called work engagement (9). Therefore, there is a program at HiCircular especially dedicated to this. The Engage Program contains challenges, ideation, gamification, and other activities that will increase the engagement of your collaborators.
We will address the subject of commitment in our next article. In particular, the first people who get involved in the work. Who is the early majority and what is their impact on a circular initiative?
- Castejon, C. (2020). Éléments de discussion sur “L’espace de discussion dans/sur le travail”, Travailler, 43,65-78.
- Muranko, Z., Andrews, D., J. Newton, E., Chaer, I., Proudman, P. (2018). The pro-circular change model (p-ccm): proposing a framework facilitating behavioral change towards a circular economy. Resources, Conservation & Recycling, 135, 132-140.
- Moktadir, A., Kumar, A., Mithun Ali, S., Kumar Paul, S., Sultana, R., Rezaei, J. (2020). Critical success factors for a circular economy: Implications for business strategy and the environment. Business Strategy and the Environment, 29(8), 3611–3635. DOI: 10.1002/bse.2600
- Juan Hao, M., & Yazdanifard, R. (2015). How effective leadership can facilitate change in organizations through improvement and innovation. Global journal of management and business research: administration and management, 15(9), 1-5.
- Bakker, A., Schaufeli, W., Leiter, M. & Taris, T. (2008). Work engagement: An emerging concept in occupational health psychology. Work & Stress, 22(3), 187-200. DOI: 10.1080/02678370802393649