This week’s anonymous career advice question:
Will a strict return to the office help my team get back together?
Dear Focus, Our office has been told they are expected back in the office in the coming weeks. My department’s performance has dropped and you can see cracks appear. Do you think this will help our department get back to performing?
This is going to be a big question for many department heads and leads in the coming months.
If there is a performance issue it’s likely not simply down to being remote and video call fatigue that we have all heard about in the last six months.
It’s likely down to many more factors of work:
- The general blurring of work and life,
- Relationships falling apart
- Colleagues leaving
- A change to furlough or headcount
- A team subculture that requires more than a bandaid or an away day.
Here are just a few categories of questions to ask yourself and your team around what the causes are and answer collectively.
- Has there been a breakdown in communications?
- Has there been a project, product or campaign that has failed?
- Has there been turnover or lack of refill of headcount?
- How do you propose to bring the teams closer together if there are numerous fractions or your internal influencer or secret weapon is unhappy?
- Proximity is an important factor within interpersonal relationships but does it apply or add value in 2021?
- Being close or within one office doesn’t mean better communications and the old bad habits won’t come back.
Something I always recommend to read and develop out is the Allen curve within your business, as the study shows the closer and more frequent you are by proximity the better relationships were.
Here is a good LinkedIn post to understand more of an updated review.
Being a good leader from anywhere
- Asking if this was going to be full time back in the office?
- Have there been consistent communications?
- Regardless of where your team are located your role shouldn’t have to change, often remote can be easier to manage times and interruptions
Resentment for having to come back in
This is something many team members are expressing.
Likely voicing their concerns or frustrations around having to return to the old way of working.
Although it doesn’t sound to have been easy or plain sailing many people have realised this way of working works better for them and their situation.
Can you adapt this for a team member?
Swamped in routine
One common mistake is not mixing up routines and not listening to feedback.
Old routines won’t likely improve the issues that occurred while forced working from home environment.
Is this an opportunity to change the routine? I would suggest this is a great time to revisit and restructure routines.
Cost of over-communication
Many businesses were telling teams to over-communicate, this was one of the common mistakes over the last year.
Communications have to deliberate.
There has to be for a reason and managed by channel.
Can you reduce friction by reducing communication or more likely over communication?
Ability to deliver anywhere
- The question everyone seems to struggle with, have we set our teams to succeed and deliver from anywhere?
- Do you actually have one rule that applies all within your business?
- Where your team set up to succeed?
Best of luck with your move towards going back into the office, as we suggested the office should be rethought as an arena and this is an important read to help reshape your office while returning to the office safely.
Helpful Reads To Improve Your Management