FIVE PERKS of Returning to the Post-COVID Workplace
June 22, 2021
“What if I don’t want to go back? ” Why there really is no substitute for face-to-face connections and why employers should encourage some level of in-person work.
As companies start to sound the call to return to work, employees are resistant. There are fears, hesitation, and a comfort that has been enjoyed in working from home. According to a recent Harris Poll survey, Forty percent of Americans prefer to work from home full-time, compared with 35 percent who seek a home-office hybrid and 25 percent who want to go back to the office full-time. More than two-thirds of workers say they’re concerned about returning to the office.The challenge for today’s leaders is to communicate WHY the office is a great place to be. Although virtual and hybrid teams can be efficient and productive, there are some compelling reasons for in-person contact. Leaders today will need to articulate the benefits and incentives for face-to-face meetings, while embracing employees desires to maintain some type of hybrid work schedule.
Tara Powers, CEO of Powers Resource Center, is an expert in virtual teams and remote work. While she says virtual teams can be highly productive, there are significant reasons for some level of in-person contact. She explains that with the right foundation, a virtual team can be healthy and accomplish its goals, but there are some intangibles that work best face to face.
- Less loneliness and isolation. Even though working from home may involve being around spouses, kids and pets, there is still a professional isolation that can be difficult. Professional connect tends to inspire and motivate.
- Water-cooler talk. We might think chatting up our co-workers is wasted time, but studies show there are often creative ideas, one-off solutions, and brainstorming that can occur in a non-scheduled meeting.
- Separation of home and work life. This past year has blurred all boundaries of work and home. While most people have been forced to embrace this reality, the establishment of better boundaries may be a welcome change.
- An emotional check-in. On-line meetings have been the go-to for the past year but don’t often leave space for small talk and personal updates. Team members need these personal touch points and feel safe and connected when they are allowed to occur.
- Excitement and enthusiasm for a “return to normal.” After more than a year of lockdown, people are just happy to be social and engaged. While the office may have been a routine part of life in the past, it’s now something that represents life POST-COVID.
Navigating a return to work will take some effort. Companies may need guidance and tools for building a new virtual, in-person or likely hybrid workplace. At PRC, we specialize in assessing organization health and building meaningful connections. In our work with virtual teams, we’ve spent decades developing effective assessment tools and building the framework for making the best, most connected teams possible. For more information on our custom tool kits, virtual team trainings, or other leadership development resources, learn more here.
Recently, PRC CEO Tara Powers was a guest on The Corporate Agent’s weekly podcast, Lead Your Movement. The topic, unsurprisingly, was Powers’ sweet spot — virtual team and virtual leader best practices. Check it out here.
During the one-hour podcast, Powers discusses the challenges leaders face when taking on the new — and as we’ve recently seen — unprepared role as a virtual team leader.