My husband, Matt, commutes nearly 60 miles – one way. He’s driving nearly 120 miles round trip just to be in the office, so you better believe he is doing everything possible to really maximize his time while he is there. So for you returning to the office, you may not have to commute 120 miles, but there is time, money, and energy that has to go into going back to the office. Now, these things may not be any different than they were before, but you’ve spent the past few years getting a taste of what it’s like to not have to do those things, right?
You might have to get up earlier, actually take a shower, do your hair, pick out real clothes to wear, pack a lunch, spend money for fuel or public transportation, then actually spend time on the commute, maybe even time to make other childcare arrangements. I mean, the list can go on and on. So if you’re going to be doing these things, if you’re going to be expending these resources, you better take advantage and maximize your time in the office.
Today I’m addressing you as a leader, the four things that you should be doing, the specific actions you should be taking to really maximize your time in the office. Number one is schedule your weekly, or whatever cadence you have, one-on-one meetings for when both you and your direct report are in the office together, assuming that your direct report isn’t a permanent remote worker. The one-on-one meetings, they really are meant to be intimate. And while there’s certainly a level of intimacy over a virtual call when it’s just the two of you, there is absolutely more intimacy by being physically energized in the same room together.
That conversation can be about engagement, about development, progress, even just projects. So use the time, and schedule the one-on-one’s when you know both you and your direct report will be in the office. The second thing I want you to schedule are your team meetings. So if it’s required, certainly this is easier, but if not, I would be making a request that your team is all in the office on the same day, every week, or at the very least once per month, and schedule the team meeting during the time when everybody is there in person.
This really provides the energy that’s needed for creativity, collaboration, and culture – the three C’s of what makes the office life easier. By physically bringing everyone together in one space, you’re going to create that environment. In addition, now you’ve created the opportunity for impromptu conversations to happen while they’re going to and from the meetings; or just the fact that everyone’s in the office, they have more of a chance to run into each other versus needing to schedule the virtual meetings.
So schedule team meetings, try to get everyone in on the same day so you can do so. The third thing that I want you to do is to schedule coffee chats and lunch meetings. Here’s why – you need to continue your career trajectory. And in order to do that, you’ve got to either expand or strengthen your network. And this is the best way to do it, in person. So schedule coffee and lunch meetings with either your peers across departments, across teams, your manager, even potentially your manager’s peers, depending on the relationship. But this is the perfect time when you are in person, to really strengthen and expand your network in order to support your career growth.
Finally, number four: I highly, highly encourage you to leave personal matters out of the office. Especially if you are hybrid; if you are hybrid, leave the personal stuff for the days where you are working from home and you get some time back, where you don’t have to commute, you don’t have to do all the prep that we talked about. But when you’re in the office, it is such a great way for you to stay focused.
Look, work from home and the situation we’ve been in in the past few years has created these situations sometimes with no boundaries, right? Everything seems so blended, work and life. Use the time in the office so that you can actually create those boundaries physically, so leave the personal stuff outside as much as possible. All right, leaders, you have your four action items of what to do to really maximize your time for yourself and your team when you’re in the office!