Virtual Teams

Convince me – why should I come back to the office?

As we gear up for hybrid working, one of the more challenging conversations in bringing people back to the office is explaining why it is necessary. Most companies are assuming that some level of time in the office is desirable, but many have not done a great job of articulating why this is.

Individuals will respond, quite rightly, that now they have demonstrated that they can be both productive and engaged in working remotely for an extended period, why do they need to come into the office at all? From their perspective they need to understand why they should be investing significant amounts of time and cost to make the journey to an office they have demonstrated they do not need.

In crafting our communication, we need to answer the age-old question “what’s in it for me”?

From an organisational point of view there are some good reasons to get people face to face when you can (whether that requires three days a week in the office is another question). It may be to enable the maintenance of a great corporate culture, to build stronger relationships within and between teams and to enable informal interaction to stimulate creativity.

From the point of view of an individual employee the maintenance of corporate culture may not the top of their list of concerns. They are likely to be more motivated by the opportunity to interact with colleagues, share learning and stay visible for career development reasons.

Once we have articulated these benefits then we also need to focus on how we deliver them.

If we communicate that the objective of coming to the office is to build corporate culture or share learning, but most people spend their time vainly looking for meeting rooms to join fully virtual meetings with others who are not in the same location, then this will wear thin very quickly.

It would be a shame after all we have learned about remote working. if we commuted into an office every week to sit there and do our emails. If we do, expect people to be pretty dissatisfied with this.

I liked this quote from McKinsey “Some of our clients say the office is the new off-site—the place you get together to collaborate and think forward“.

How is your organisation selling the benefits of the return to the office?

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