So we’re going back to the office are we? Are we sure that’s what we want to do? Or are we just drifting back because ‘everyone else’ seems to be? And is everyone coming back full time?
The ‘work from home experiment’ has had some successes. If your career is established and you have all the dedicated equipment and a pleasant space to work at home, with reliable internet access, it’s been pretty good. Some people are reluctant to return to the office. Not just to avoid the commute, but because working from home is efficient and well, just ‘nicer’. The constant interruptions in the office environment are unwelcome distractions.
But it’s not been the same for new recruits and those getting their career underway. Many haven’t met their boss or colleagues face to face and are missing out on opportunities to impress. And let’s not start on their cramped working conditions in shared flats.
A combination of office and home working seems to be developing. But rather than simply let it happen, it is possible to cultivate a more successful business result through direct and conscious actions.
Strategic steps leading to spectacular leaps:
Leading from home is just about possible, but ‘managing from home’ really is not. So to achieve all the benefits of a cohesive team it’s going to be necessary to get everyone together at least part of the time.
A return to the office has to be managed – not just by everyone saying when is best for them to be in (although it’s essential to get buy-in) – but when and how it’s best for everyone to work creatively together. Individual desks/work pods could be replaced by bigger tables where people jointly determine what work is to be done over the next time period, by whom, to what criteria and with what measures. Who is going to monitor performance and who is going to resolve problems needs to be clearly communicated, before some depart to do their tasks at home.
Those working in the office will have fewer unwelcome interruptions because project parameters have already been clarified. Training and development opportunities can be thoughtfully incorporated through these team sessions.
To avoid any conflict resulting from a two-team workforce (those who are ‘in’ and those who are ‘out’) it will be necessary to actively care for team member well-being and social interactions. This can be another management challenge.
For many managers, the process of transferring back to the office will be a step change in their normal way of working and, if they have been stuck at home for over a year, their vital communication and management skills will have atrophied. Bringing in an external consultant with the training and expertise to support managers during this crucial time will help the business owner derive the maximum benefits of an efficient and effective return to the office. Or maybe it’s time to think even more ambitiously and make some key business changes……???
If you would like to learn the steps, make the moves and take the leap into a better way of working contact firstname.lastname@example.org