Sooooo, are we going back to the office or no?  A question a lot of employers and employees are asking themselves right now.  Obviously, there is no one size fits all answer to this question. It’s a question I’ve been asking every client, every prospect, and every connection on an ongoing basis.

Being forced to work from home has compelled organizations to evaluate the “where” and “how” of work.  Are your employees being productive and getting things done?  What are the key data points that lead an employee to a successful day/week/month?  Ultimately the cumulative impact of every employee delivering on those data points leads to overall company success.

One narrative I hear is, “I need my employees to be in front of me at the office to lead/manage them!”  Why?  Is it because you need them in front of you because you have an inability to lead in a different way than you are accustom to, or is it a lack of trust?  These are hard questions we must ask ourselves and each other.

Another is, “We really are missing the collaboration in the office.” An HR Executive shared this thought from someone in their C – Suite with me.  The HR Executive suggested that “collaboration” was being confused with “work social life.”  Chatting as you pass someone’s office, getting lunch and or drinks after work.  All things we certainly miss but is being back in the office to chit chat really necessary?  If you truly need to “collaborate” provide a space and time for that to happen.

“We are going to a hybrid model.” We need to be very specific as to what that exactly means and why it makes sense.  If an employee can perform their job from home 3-4 days a week, do they need to go into the office for a day or two?  If you want them back in the office, establish a clear reason why and structure their schedules in a way that makes sense and is effective.

What do we do next?

  • Rethink what is truly necessary.
  • Let employees know what is expected of them and ensure they have the tools to deliver.
  • LEAD. Whether they are in front of you or not.
  • Ask yourself and each other “why,” a lot!
  • Be consistent in your decision making but be okay with not having a one size fits all approach.

This is new.  This is different.  Mistakes will be made.

Be decisive. Communicate why.  Admit when you’re wrong and pivot.