Reasons why we need to return to the office post-pandemic

p 1 the office is not dead heres why

Currently we’ve seen a number of obituaries for the office. The pandemic triggered a large shift to do business from home (WFH) amongst data and repair employees. Groups are utilizing communication apps like Zoom, Slack, and Microsoft Groups to keep productive. Despite the fact that workers are working more hours, individuals like having extra management over their work schedules. They profit from much less commuting, at the same time as the boundaries are blurring between work and residential.

I consider stories of the office’s demise are untimely for a number of causes, however all of them mirror the vital human need for connection. Final spring, numerous Silicon Valley executives made very public statements indicating their modified minds on the need for an in-person office: “We’re working so nicely from residence that we would possibly by no means return to the office.”

Didn’t they notice that the cause they may transition to 100% digital groups in a single day was that they’d spent years constructing a shared expertise amongst workers? It was the energy of proximity that enabled workers to make the change. These firms had invested of their cultures, which carried them by way of.


After nearly a 12 months of distant working, we’re seeing a gradual decay of connection. In accordance to Gallup, distant workers are 7% much less seemingly to see their connection to the mission of an organization. Watching a laptop computer display with six different faces is inherently transactional, much less spontaneous, and fewer human than working in an precise room with precise individuals.

In response, leaders are stepping up their efforts to have a good time humanity at work, casting a highlight on moments when workers transcend their job descriptions to assist prospects, enhance merchandise or share new concepts. They’re reminding workers that we’re in a annoying time and it’s okay to deal with themselves and one another. They’re utilizing all-hands digital conferences and recognition platforms to share a few of their very own vulnerability and gratitude for the sacrifices and resilience of workers.

In a current digital occasion held by the Washington Submit, Wharton Faculty professor Adam Grant observed that digital work has “advantages for productiveness . . . [but] the huge dangers are collaboration and tradition.” As we return to a brand new office setup, how can we maximize the advantages and mitigate the dangers?

The brand new office might be devoted to interplay

Talking at the similar occasion, Susan Lund, PhD, a frontrunner of the McKinsey International Institute, believes the return to places of work might be about interplay. She stated, “you’ll go into [the office] to meet with different individuals doing brainstorming and innovation, with extra collaborative areas, group rooms and perhaps particular person cellphone cubicles for [private] conversations.”

Architects, designers, technologists, and enterprise leaders are placing ahead an array of hybrid work preparations, combining the greatest components of WFH and face-to-face collaboration. There might be no scarcity of latest choices. The query is, how can we make the most of a once-in-a-lifetime disruption?

Transition to a human office

A current BCG study on distant work said, “workers glad with social connectivity are extra seemingly to preserve or enhance productiveness on collaborative duties.” Briefly, robust work collaboration requires robust human connections. And that’s the key to rethinking the office in your group. As a change administration course of, the 2021 transition to the “subsequent regular” is an unimaginable alternative to reaffirm your dedication to greater than workers’ bodily security.


Returning to the office can reinvigorate your tradition

Each facet of a hybrid office association can contribute to better human connection amongst individuals in a workforce mix of on-site, distant, full-time, and contract and gig employees. As a begin, take into account how every of those elements can strengthen ties amongst workers.

Bodily area: You’ll be redesigning desks, collaboration areas, secure convention rooms, and facilities (individuals will use the espresso station and the fitness center, however in a different way). Enlist workers in the redesign course of, as a result of they took a graduate-level course in collaboration final 12 months.

Expertise: Forge a brand new form of partnership between enterprise capabilities, HR, and tech groups so private and collaboration know-how are deployed in service to individuals as a lot as productiveness.

Tradition: Rejoice the human qualities that acquired you thru the pandemic. It’s nice to have a good time efficiency however we need to have a good time what connects us: kindness, dedication, integrity, resilience, collaboration, braveness, and even love. Pause to admire each other, to present gratitude, to acknowledge moments that folks had been artistic, adaptable, resilient, and selfless. Give everybody in the group the instruments they need to present gratitude to one another and actually reside the cultural values of the firm.

Information: Deploy knowledge capabilities that measure how persons are doing in addition to what they’re doing. At Workhuman, the language in our recognition knowledge—generated from greater than 50 million moments of recognition and gratitude amongst 5 million workers—can reveal unconscious bias which alerts individuals leaders that there are maybe beforehand unseen inequities that may be addressed now. AI and superior analytics at the moment are able to discovering a lot. Preserve experimenting and preserve measuring the end in each enterprise phrases and human phrases as a result of immediately, they’re inseparable.

Proper now, there are too many unknowns (in public well being, in the financial system) to decide precisely when we will return to shared workplaces, however the benefits of human connection at work are so profound {that a} return to the office in some new, artistic kind is inevitable. In accordance to Grant: “2020 was the 12 months of compelled rethinking . . . my aspiration for 2021 is that it’s a 12 months of proactive eager about the place we work and the way we work.”

Obituaries for the office are untimely. Let’s use what we’ve realized in 2020 to reinvent each our workplaces and our work cultures in 2021.

Eric Mosley is the CEO and cofounder of what started as Globoforce and is now Workhuman.