After spending several days with a group of executive women, I walked away with this weird energy that was coming from them. Some people felt anxious, some were frustrated, other women just had downright animosity – and it was all centered around the same thing. Returning to the office. Look, we have to acknowledge that for nearly three years, people have become accustomed to and created new routines around working from home.
They have more time back in their day because they’re not commuting five days a week, they have some more flexibility where they can maybe integrate household chores or just see their family more often. So to then be shifting in this abrupt way, in many cases, it is challenging. We are asking people to recreate, re-establish a different set of routines, and it may be something they just aren’t comfortable with, and have really liked their current routine.
Now, look, there is absolutely a case for organizations to bring people back into the office; not necessarily full-time, five days a week like it was in the past, but absolutely to bring people together. So what can you as a leader and an organization do to get your employees back on board with coming into the office?
It’s simple – people. What people are missing most is the social connection. By nature, human beings need social connection, and that’s what they are missing most. Harvard Business Review put out this statement, and I love this quote. It is, “The value of the office is in the people, not the place.”
So if you want people to be less resistant, or even excited to come back into the office, you have to create an environment that promotes social connection. Simple things are trying to get as many people in the office on one team on the same date, and that’s when you have your team meetings in person. Or you bring in lunch, or you invite people to go to coffee. What else, in a broader sense, could you be doing to promote networking and social connection?
It may even just be educating your current employees on how they themselves can set up time, intentional time, when they’re in the office. So if you want to create a spirit, an energy, to get your team, your employees on board with coming back in the office, it’s got to be centered around what they miss most – social connection. Find ways that you can leverage that to bring them back into the office. What are you going to do today? Put that in the comments below, we’d love to hear your ideas to share out with the community!