Are the 9 am – 5 pm office hours dead?
Is the long commute finally over?
Is the push to return to the office by employers a waste of time and attention?
Chatting with a senior leader at one of my global media clients this week, she lamented the return to the office for her and her team, but she felt torn.
The mix of extreme emotions from excitement to anxiety — sometimes in the same sentence.
“Neen, I miss the team but I will miss my family more. I want to be able to lead and help the team achieve their goals but I also love having dinner with my partner and putting in a load of washing between team calls.”
I get it.
Can you relate?
Are you feeling anxiety as more companies return to their offices?
Do you feel like you finally found your rhythm and routine working from home and now you have to get your head around adding commute time to your office (full time or even part-time)?
Are you wondering how you are going to handle getting real work done with all those interruptions of well-meaning colleagues who want to ask you ‘how was your weekend?”
Or are you so excited to be around real people in real life instead of just seeing them through the lens?
You are not alone.
We know that there are concerns and questions that everyone has about returning to the office. And if you lead a team, it’s important to know that they are all feeling their anxieties, even if you aren’t!
Almost every leader I speak with right now is feeling the same, especially those that identify as female.
Do they miss their co-workers? Sure.
Do they love the work they do? Sure.
But, while they appreciate that even though everyone suffered great loss during COVID (loss of loved ones, friendships, routines, businesses, clients, so many things), they have possibly gained as well, designing a new lifestyle that fits their personality and productivity style.
Remote work was tough for many when it was thrust upon us two years ago, however we all eventually found our way and companies reinvented the workplace and work hours, most for the better. Some may be feeling pressure to return to the way things were before, but, here’s the thing — we can’t go back. It will NEVER return to what we knew before.
Why? Well, remote work highlighted workplace issues that bubbled under the surface that we didn’t talk about enough or address and those concerns are still real:
- Pam prefers to work alone and doesn’t want to be interrupted to talk about your kid’s sports — what are we doing for her?
- Peter uses a speakerphone and heats up his left-over tuna casserole in the microwave — will he do that when we return?
- Paula felt left out of the office clique because she needed to get home to take care of her elderly parents — how can we help her feel more included?
- Patrick didn’t appreciate the lack of diversity in his company but smiled politely at team meetings to avoid conflict — how can we be more inclusive?
- Penny dropped off her little ones at daycare early each day only to become desperate to see them at night — how can we change her day?
- Philip and his husband recently adopted a little one and hated their travel schedule — how can we rethink business travel?
- Polly was waiting for retirement and counting down the days to see her grandkids again — how can we give people even more flexibility?
As leaders we need to commit to building a new system, a new workplace, new standards, and a new team charter. What are your new guidelines as people return to the office?
There is no new normal, (stupid phrase) we need new systems.
I believe that systems direct attention and create freedom. By creating systems at work and home, you’ll be able to focus your attention to achieve your goals.
Here are a few systems to consider as you get your head around returning to a work environment:
- Create a daily strategic 15-minute appointment — (you’ve heard me talk about this before) determine your top 3 non-negotiable activities you must complete to feel successful today.
- Create a morning routine — I talk about this in Chapter 3 of my book Attention Pays. Determine who and want needs your time and attention before you leave home. Make yourself a priority and move your body, meditate for your mind and fuel your body with food that gives you the energy you need for your day. You know I have 3 M’s: movement, matcha (I recommend KoMatcha — my fave!), and meditation!
- Consider personal outsourcing solutions — Can you use a wash and fold service? Drop off on your way to work and collect on your way home. Can you have groceries delivered? Can you invest in a meal delivery service? Could you hire a personal trainer to get that workout in? Could you hire a local teenager to walk your quarantine furry baby, drive your kids to sports, take your elderly parent to the grocery store? Consider listing all the activities you have been doing (in addition to your work) and determine if any of them can be outsourced. If you’re worried about the extra expense, could you barter or combine time and tasks with others in your neighborhood to help each other out?
- Time block — be fierce in how you protect your work and home time. Those boundaries you created in COVID can continue, it’s up to you to educate those around you. It will feel awkward at first but I promise it will get easier.
There are so many additional ideas in Attention Pays (check out pages 100 – 103 for even more ideas!). If you don’t have your own copy, you can pick it up on Amazon or your fave bookstore.
An exclusive live virtual workshop with Neen to help your team get back to work!
We are currently building the plane as we fly it, each of us navigating how we can make this work. If you and your team are struggling to get your head around how to make the transition back into a workplace I’d love to help.
We have had SO many clients ask us HOW to return to the office and still feel human so we are offering a special, one-time workshop on Thursday, April 21, from 2:00 – 3:30 pm EDT for this very topic.
If any of the above resonated with you, we’ll be covering how to:
- Manage your emotions (positive or negative) and mindset
- Set up your daily systems to keep your home life running smoothly while you are at work
- Create new routines to feel productive at work so you can get more done and stay focussed
- Systemize your calendar so you can still take care of yourself, your team, and your loved ones
You can learn more about the webinar (and all the goodies you’ll get if you sign up!) at the link below. I can’t wait to see you there!