Time To Reimagine The Purpose Of Going Back Into Office

AUTHOR

hparker

DATE

May 11, 2022

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Announcement Of The week:

I will be attending Progio Las Vegas on May 23-25 where I will be presenting on The New Fundamentals Of Programmatic Activation. If you are going to attend, make sure to message me on LinkedIn or email me to set up some time to say hi 😬
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Noteworthy News of the Week:

Let’s talk about Kimeko McCoy’s article “The office just needs to have a different purpose’: What one agency leader has learned from 10 years of remote-first work” in Digiday. 

Here are my takeaways from the read:

  • Many employers are reconsidering the role office space plays in workflow and company culture, with many agencies moving to fully remote or hybrid work environments.
  • Hands Down Agency, a U.K.-based brand design agency, has abandoned the idea of an office altogether and instead meets once a month for team bonding.
  • Leaders need to meet their team as adults and not assume they are shirking responsibility. They need to look at their output instead of pulling people back into the office.
  • We have some simple rules for our team, like responding to clients between 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., Monday to Friday. We also have good boundaries, like doing yoga at 11:30 a.m. every Tuesday.
  • The office just needs to have a different purpose. We now meet monthly with a purpose, talk about the business, set goals, and go out for a sociable evening.
  • Flexible work makes a huge difference to people who are parents. Kids are unpredictable, and coming into the office half an hour late adds an extra layer of stress.
  • We’re brought up to think people are lazy and don’t want to do work, but people like different types of work and a different kind of leadership. The workplace needs to evolve to meet these new needs.

Actionable Insight:

Before I share some actionable insights to take home (or back into the office for you and your team) let’s understand the following 3 definitions for Productivity, Efficiency, and Team Culture.

  • Being productive is the quality, state, or fact of being able to generate, create, enhance, or bring forth goods and services. – Dictionary.com
  • Being efficient means being capable of producing desired results without wasting materials, time, or energy”. – Britannica.com
  • The team culture of an organization is a combination of values, beliefs, and behavioral norms that workers share and the behaviors that these factors cause. Similar to the culture of a society, the culture of a team is supported by the people who are in it. – Glassdoor.com

Alright Hélène, what does this have to do with Kimeko’s article? 

It is time to re-evaluate and update our definition of team culture and company values.
After the last 2-3 years, we cannot go back to “normal” or “pre-pandemic” and “traditional” office work life.
I know you think you can but please understand that you cannot make a decision that will affect everyone else day-to-day without including everyone else.

Per the definitions above, team culture is a combination of values, beliefs, and behavioral norms shared by all and supported by the people/ team members in it. If you are requiring your team to head back into the office (whether full or part-time), in an attempt to inspire a unified team spirit and increase productivity, please conclusively re-evaluate the goal.
Being in the office does not equal getting more things done and being more productive.

We should focus and aim to equip the team with a decision that would respect and empower them to be efficient and productive. To some, it is not going back full-time, and to others, it is also not being forced into a hybrid model, but I can guarantee that to all, it is to be given the choice.

How to move forward with this?

  1. Ask your team to help identify what the future holds as a team and set those values.
  2. Include and reward all participation!
  3. Be patient with some and understand that work-life balance isn’t “I give you take”. It is best understood according to Jim Kwik’s perspective:
    “Work-life balance is like a symphony. All instruments and melodies have a role and a specific start/endpoint. Each comes in at the perfect time and stops when it is supposed to. That is how work-life balance should be.”
  4. What is your definition of work-life balance? Answering this question will be a great conversation starter to have with your team and leaders. Maybe the office can become a new space where the team can work on self-development, team building, team training, overall company growth, etc. In Emma Sexton’s voice: “The workplace needs to evolve to meet these new needs.“

It is time to reimagine the purpose of the office and to truly be flexible. It cannot be one size fits all and that is ok!

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