Post pandemic return to office starts with rebuilding cohesive teams
By Shideh Doerr
As we enter a post-pandemic world, we are seeing companies go through major transitions as they try to navigate whether they ask employees to return to the office, allow them to stay home, or do something in between. After a year spent working remotely, data shows mixed results in productivity. Some companies reported higher than normal productivity, while others reported lower productivity and an unfavorable impact on customer satisfaction. The results could vary simply because there is no standard method of measuring productivity across multiple business settings. However, regardless of the results, one thing is clear: isolation, Zoom fatigue, and lack of social interactions among team members have had an adverse mental impact on employees.
Although the general consensus among many businesses is to pivot from a full-time, in-person work model to a hybrid one, companies are still working out the details. They recognize the need for change in work arrangements and the hybrid model allows employees the flexibility of working in the office and remotely with an understanding that in-person collaboration is essential to their culture and future.
In a hybrid workforce, with various teams coming and going, employers will need to work even harder to keep their teams feeling connected. This model has significant hurdles to overcome, such as productivity and loss of motivation, while still maintaining corporate culture. Employees can feel overwhelmed and disconnected during the transition and a poorly designed work model can have a profound negative impact on teamwork, collaboration, trust, creativity, innovation, retention and team cohesiveness.
In addition, as these companies compete for a younger workforce, they must provide the best-fit hybrid work model to not only keep, but attract talented professionals who prefer flexible schedules, comfortable clothing and more personal leisure time
While the hybrid work model enables employees to be present at the office a few days a week, and interact with their peers and team members, it still lacks the team cohesiveness that results from daily face-to-face interactions. To be successful, companies must find a way to create this cohesiveness even when daily in-person interaction is missing.
Businesses today are challenged to develop strategies that fuel productivity, while easing work fatigue and loss of motivation. Corporate culture is not your office, it is what you do as an organization and how you work together. When done right, it can revitalize a workforce and create a culture of innovation and stability.
How to foster a team environment
It is essential to make coming back to the office an engaging, motivating and a safe experience for employees. However, developing connections may present a challenge for managers. In many cases, this could be the first time some team members meet their coworkers in-person. They are going to have to be more thoughtful about creating emotional connections between team members as well as with the organization, which is critical to maintaining productivity and commitment.
Below are a few ideas that could help with the transition:
Connection: Help your employees connect professionally and personally. Plan to provide opportunities for structured and unstructured time to engage, share and discuss life and work. Let them get to know and learn from each other. Simple conversations can go along way in tightening team bonds.
Collaboration: Success depends on putting minds together. Working together builds trust, mitigates conflict and encourages communication. Find the right balance and schedule in time for fun activities, especially those that require collaboration between team members.
Creativity: When people are in close proximity, they brainstorm more ideas and generate more creative and productive solutions. Encourage employees to safely take the opportunity to relax and share some light moments together where they can talk. This will help generate new ideas.
Culture: To build or maintain a positive, well-received company culture, get your employees to work together. More engaged workers are good for a company’s culture and boosts productivity.
Strangers have rarely achieved greatness and few great things are achieved in isolation.