Scan any publication today and you’ll find stories on the post-pandemic office environment. This Daily Buzz article is a good example. Much of the focus is on what percentage of employees are coming back to offices vs. quitting, how office environments will shift their office space to accommodate safety needs, and how touchless surfaces are becoming a new norm.
While we agree with these concerns, our bigger focus now is on how companies will adapt to uncertain office and team dynamics that have been created by people who haven’t worked in person together for over a year. How do companies want to address employees who aren’t engaged, and those who have psychological safety concerns about what the future office environment is going to feel like?
The emotional issues are critical to get right as we start having in-person meetings together, travel together, and build teamwork together again. Rather than being fearful of this uncomfortable time period, we at Corporate Path Leadership think it is an ideal time to hit the “Reset” button on your team.
Consider the following three ideas to get your team started on the right new track when coming back into the office.
IDEA ONE: Opportunity To Build Team Energy
Employees may be apprehensive about returning to an office, but many are hungry for work and social interaction. Many may be focused on change and thinking about their next career moves, or the thought that they can’t go back to a “same old” team environment that existed before the pandemic. Our advice is that you use time returning to the office to bring some enthusiasm to the office itself.
- As a team leader, you could schedule a welcome back lunch the first week back in the office.
- You could add in separate, longer 1:1 meetings where you talk freely about what you are most looking forward to, and most nervous about when it comes to returning to the office.
- Create opportunities to get open feedback from your team members about what they are thinking and feeling.
IDEA TWO: Opportunity To Build New Team Traditions
A big period of change can be the perfect time to introduce a new tradition (or three) to your team. Here are a few ideas:
- Perhaps a Monday stand-up meeting for 15 minutes where everyone goes around to say the item that is most important to accomplish that week — with you talking about a key strategic priority as well.
- Or maybe a new monthly tradition of bringing in lunch and celebrating wins for the past 4 weeks.
- Or what about setting up “innovation hours” for a couple of hours per week where you hang a sign on your door stating a timeframe and encourage team members to stop by on an impromptu basis and share ideas that would benefit the team and/or company.
IDEA THREE: Opportunity To Build New Team Accountability
At surface level, this might seem like a negative thought. However, after a year of working at home and having a more fluid existence, some team members may want to have a sense of organization. Here is a way to bring this concept to life in a positive way:
- Form a monthly/quarterly calendar of team related goals/milestones.
- Have people’s names and dates next to the milestones to mark time for when those team members will share progress on a project.
- Encourage them to check in with you if they feel that they need help removing any obstacles to meeting a deadline.
Finally, don’t forget that the period of change is an opportunity for you personally to show leadership and focus on your team members. Being able to sit with them across a desk instead of across the internet can be a chance to deepen relationships, refocus team priorities and celebrate success.
We wish you all luck in the coming months and look forward to hearing your stories about how your teams are changing and evolving in the year ahead.
Contact Us Today
We make it easy to jump start success. Simply contact us and share your current team challenge or need, and we’ll respond with program ideas to innovate your team performance.