November 16, 2020

THE ROLE OF THE OFFICE

To Stay or Not to Stay…. That is the Question

I think the most important thing to do is take a pause on making a thousand decisions and think about why you were in the office pre-COVID. When you take a step back, take a few moments to reflect on what were the expectations for the office before? What was the role of the office? The office was a vital tool for businesses.

As the CEO, I firmly know the office’s role; this is our place to BE SKG. We used our office to physically bring our company together. We would hold meetings, train, mentor, laugh, ideate, pass off info to each other. So what has changed now?

Yes, we need to provide a healthy and safe structure, but we still require all those things.

As we look to the future of the office, what makes it relevant?

Over the past eight months, we have found that most people can accomplish tasks with heads down work at home. Yes, we can still do that in the office. We have probably forever crossed over to flex hours so individuals can go deep into their headspace and tackle heads down work at home. BUT, what about everything else but head down position?

Let’s first talk about Culture. Since we have been back at the office (June of 2020), we get consistent feedback around the connection moments. Culture matters now more than ever. It’s a great indicator of its ability to grow and transform through times like this. Strong cultures emerged even more robust through this workplace experiment, and weaker cultures experienced some eye-opening moments and opportunities for growth. It’s important to remember, cultures did not change; the context did. And in the context of incredible uncertainty, communication, engagement, transparency, and the quality of the communication went to a whole new level.

Source: Sloan Review, MIT

Ideation. For high growth and entrepreneurial enterprises, the need for collaboration and ideation is real. When teams can brainstorm, stand, use marker boards, play off each other’s ideas is critical for ideation. There is something real about the energy that happens when teams are physically together. Yep, there are many tools available to simulate whiteboards and collaboration calls. Still, nothing will ever beat the genuine impact of teams collaborating together. The office is the greatest conduit to bring all size teams together to drive innovation through collaboration.

Transfer of Knowledge. I think one of the most challenging things we have had to manage is the transfer of knowledge. It seems we have to set meetings and time to make the smallest exchange. Everything is so scheduled. The element of the impromptu exchange of knowledge feels like we went back to the 90’a and tall walls! The days I am back in the office, the quick discussions, replies, answers, and oh!- did I forget to tell you moments are priceless. We have worked so hard for over the past 10 years to create workspaces that promoted the easy transfer of knowledge and moments of conversation.

Engagement. Probably one of the most impactful pieces to being back in the office is the depth of engagement. We are receiving common feedback upon our return at the engagement employees are having to their work and their teams. Being at home – there is a different level of distraction. People feel almost guilty now that their families see them working and being on screen all day. There is a zone of deep connection employees can have to their teammates at work and a more powerful sense of purpose.

I think the office will have more relevance than ever. We are responsible for building professional teams of humans that thrive on connection. Can you imagine a professional sports team, a professional orchestra, or a broadway play where teams can not gather to practice and perform? Yes, you can pull off a virtual montage. Still, nothing will ever replace what you can achieve when teams come together professionally.

When you think about the office’s relevance, start with WHY you were there before, what you need now for the organization that takes you Into the future. How will you continue to drive business goals, and how can your workplace help drive those initiatives?

The office will look different, and we have thoughts on that too…. Until next time.

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