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Being 'deliberate' and purposeful when returning to the office...

I LOVE this idea:

"The health insurer Humana took advantage of mild weather in Louisville, Kentucky, and created pop-up outdoor offices in partnership with local parks to provide safer workspaces during COVID-19. The company brought in tents, socially distanced work areas, Wi-Fi, restrooms, and food trucks to allow small numbers of employees to work together in safer ways. The company may explore whether these outdoor pop-up workplaces have additional benefits and retain them as a part of its workplace strategy for the future." How clever!

Recent research has shown that the past few months of widespread remote working have had some significant drawbacks. Interviews with over 50 executives between April and November 2020 about their experience of leading their organizations through the pandemic uncovered challenges in the following areas:

  • Innovation. Although remote collaboration among colleagues who regularly engaged with one another worked well, serendipitous connections with others dropped off precipitously. Research has shown that these weak ties are often critically important to innovation and knowledge sharing in organizations.

  • Starting new projects. Remote work had little impact on workers’ ability to finish big group projects that were already underway. Relying on virtual collaboration to initiate new projects, however, was an order of magnitude more difficult in terms of challenges and stressors. This finding underscores the value of remote work but raises questions about relying on it exclusively for a long-term workplace strategy.

  • Culture. Several people that were interviewed said that establishing and maintaining organizational culture is difficult, if not impossible, in a virtual setting. Many of the cues to organizational culture that the physical workplace provides, such as the design of the office and how people dress, disappear with virtual work. The lack of a strong sense of culture is a particularly acute problem with respect to onboarding new hires.

  • Mentoring and coaching. Employees, particularly younger ones, received less mentoring and coaching during the shift to remote work than they did before the pandemic. If people don’t get the feedback they need to develop into more mature employees and leaders, this deficiency could negatively affect career development over time.

Leaders should spend the next few months planning how to combine the best aspects of remote and colocated work.

What do you think?

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