The big topic on everyone’s minds these days is heading back to the office.
I have been hearing lots of stress and uncertainty from corporate employees that are being told they have to return on a certain date, that they are required back in the office at their desk either full time or a couple days a week. I have also been speaking with employers about their developing plans to bring employees back, and many of them firmly believe that being physically back in the office is important to their culture.
With all of this big change on the horizon, my big concern is I’m not hearing sufficient focus about what could be done right now, in conjunction with this transition, to reconnect with people and with culture.
Sure, I’ll admit I used to be firmly in the camp with those that believe everyone has to be physically together to have the very best culture, but now I’m a convert. If this year has taught us anything, it is that we can build connection and culture in our organization even with a remote workforce – it just takes a little intentional effort. You can make an impact, no matter where people sit.
Organizations that care about their people and culture should not be waiting for a sustained “new normal”. Companies that say they care about developing their teams but are waiting until everyone is back in the office to implement any kind of team building are out of integrity. Waiting can be dangerous and damaging.
Watch this video I made recently after having this exact conversation with a newer employee: https://youtu.be/RuYZO7y4sqI
Some of my clients are planning return dates and others are implementing phased approaches to returning to the office, but as we know, the best laid plans can go awry. There is so much unknown within organizations, and waiting to team build until everyone is back, is not a wise move. This is exactly the opportunity to double down on building the culture you want.
My recommendation? Don’t wait! Care about your culture and your employees all through this next big transition, no matter where or how it ends up. Bring your team together virtually or in person, through an event or activity – as part of your regular weekly meeting or through a special gathering.
Build team now. Find a way to bring your organization together in-person or virtually so you can demonstrate the culture you say you want. Give your people something they will want to come back to. By making the effort to show and engage your employees in your culture, you will gain loyalty, employees will feel connected, and productivity will increase.
Think about what you could be doing now. Is it a team building event? A mid-year business retreat? How about a summer celebration? It could be as simple as re-instating your long lost regular weekly meeting and adding some fun get-to-know-you activities to the first 10 minutes. There a many things big and small that show your culture and give something for people to want to return to.