What Role Does The Office Retain For Our Leadership Teams?
“Why should I return to the office when I can work from here?” …
Schools are out, the holiday season has arrived, and the demands on our leader’s time, flexibility, and the option to work from home is a hot topic for discussion. This challenge remains front and centre for many of the leadership organisations I work with, and given that leaders need to drive this agenda, the return to the office debate is grabbing my attention this week.
Where do you sit on the WFH debate? What do you gain from working in the office, or is the office an outdated pre-pandemic concept?
There’s no doubt that the office, in its traditional sense, is outdated and out of fashion. When organisations hold onto that outdated view of what the office provides, they risk losing the commitment of their leadership teams and the advantage of what Covid created.
The pandemic brought about a seismic shift in how we work and lead our teams. One thing that has been slow to return to its pre-pandemic identity and day-to-day role is the office. Once a place of role modelling, learning and relationship building, and more recently a space where we question, why am I here?
Is there a WFH war looming for leadership?
On one side, employees advocate for the flexibility and convenience of remote work, while employers are grappling with the relevance and necessity of the traditional office space.
This challenge remains front and centre for many organisations I work with. The goal is similar – we want a thriving working space. The challenge is consistent; the office corridors remain empty.
Leaders need to reconsider the pull factor. If you want to encourage your team back into the office, it needs to provide something beyond the reach of a laptop.
This change of focus means an overhaul of the office identity is needed, and the success of this will rely on leaders to think creatively about what the pull of the office should be.
So, what are your options?
Huddling into a meeting room to talk face-to-face through spreadsheets, KPI’s and operational objectives could feel more like being pushed back to the home office. What part of this discussion is unique and differentiates the need to be here physically?
The key to leadership effectiveness in this context is in the leader’s style and self-management to consciously create an environment that makes your team feel like they want to be there. The easy option is to continue running through your meeting virtually, but what opportunity is missed from that approach?
Think strategy sessions, brainstorming meetings, the reward of relationship-building opportunities and in-person offerings that create energy, vibrancy and team cohesion.
Forward-thinking organisations have seized on the opportunity to incorporate wellness offers into their office environments to encourage their teams to socialise and feel good in their working environments.
What can you leverage?
The pandemic forced us to adapt our working styles. A great deal was achieved at pace and under pressure whilst grappling with ambiguity. If you consider what you were missing from your office environment during that time, you may uncover the answer to what we want your office location to be now.
Offices can be transformed into dynamic spaces that prioritise collaboration, creativity, and social interaction. This may involve creating flexible workstations, incorporating innovative technologies, and designing spaces fostering unity rather than an individual focus.
It’s the leader’s role to ensure their offices remain relevant by reimagining the office as a destination for meaningful interactions and cultivating a strong organisational culture.
How are your leaders creating the path to a new land?
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