What To Do About The "Return To Work" Argument

Updated: Nov 30, 2021

There are always three sides to every story - my experience, your experience & 'the truth'.

For a LOT of people, the past 18 months have brought about such drastic change, they can barely recognise their lives pre-2020 (& those who can, have no idea how they managed it!)

For a LOT of people, they've been clinging on with such vigour TO that pre-lockdown life, they can't understand why everyone else isn't desperate to get back to the office too.

What we often fail to recognise is that seeing things from others' perspectives goes beyond imagining what we think things must be like for them.

How often do you actually ask people directly what their experience is? And - if you have asked someone recently, what did you learn?

We have such an opportunity now to start creating a world that works for us as a society, as individuals, & for the greater good. There's plenty of movement & conversation around mental health & wellbeing, but there's also resistance.

Just like the efforts being made to ward off climate change, & the resistance that comes from the up front financial cost (& effort) of that (discounting those who simply don't believe it's happening, for the time being...!)

Things don't have to be so black & white anymore.

We've literally hit a reset button & have the perspective now to realise this is an opportunity to create our own realities. Thousands of people have become overnight entrepreneurs, many have lost their jobs & realised they don't need to work after all, even more have discovered that life is short & money doesn't buy happiness.

The argument for flexible working is clear - the argument for returning to the office feels like a small child throwing a tantrum in the supermarket - but that doesn't mean one is right & the other is wrong.

So how about we all stop comparing ourselves & our businesses to each other, take a look within, & figure out what would actually work for US - that means considering the introverts, the extroverts, the parents, the workaholics, the bosses AND the bottom line, together.

Start measuring outcomes rather than visibility. Start trusting capability until proven otherwise (or better yet, empower people to ask for help!) Start TALKING to your team about what you & they both need to succeed. You'd be surprised how quickly people get on board when they understand the why, & feel like you value them enough to include them in the decision.

If you need to work on your team building, relationships & communication, or you need regular status updates - consider what meetings you're having, how you're structuring them & how they're moderated (so everyone who you need to hear from is contributing), consider setting core office days or hours where everyone works in person together, & condense collaboration into that time.

If your business is all about networking, socialising, energy - & the work itself is light, then maybe a more office-based environment makes sense (sounds like a team full of high-vibe extroverts who'd all want that, too!)

If your team usually work from three computer screens & need their headphones on to indicate they're concentrating... you're ALL going to benefit from them being able to prioritise the hard stuff & get that work done, without being disturbed.

If your clients need your teams on call 24/7, consider how the responsibilities are distributed among them - could you have shared roles taking 'availability shifts', can you move some workload (the 'doing' stuff) into a bigger project team to deliver, to free up the client leads to handle enquiries (& crises!)?

The model you employ doesn't have to be the same as ANY other business, it only has to work for you.

Talking to your teams about what you're thinking, asking them what they need & accepting that the best way isn't likely to be the first way, gives you the space & permission to play around with it, try things & see what works - with everyone on board, feeding back & feeling part of the mission.

If you're feeling unsure about navigating the 'grey space' of returning to a normal work-life, finding a new way of operating that keeps your employees engaged, motivated & happy (so your clients stay happy too), or worried about the confidence within your team as they settle back into this new working world, I offer a range of bespoke corporate solutions to support you (& them) through these times of change & into sustainable success that feels good! Click here for more info.

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