End of LockDown HomeOffice – How do we motivate associates to come back in the office?

About two years ago I posted a blog on how to get the chickens back in the henhouse, meaning people back in the offices. Back then, I had no idea that we would run through another extended phase of covid 19 lockdowns. Now, lockdowns are pretty much gone, at least for the time being. In many of our firms the discussion on how to motivate people back into the offices is ongoing. What are the new rules? Working one day from home? Or two? Or none, because the boss insists on everybody working from the “henhouse”? Some firms have set defined rules, lose or strict. Many of our associates (and also myself) have learned to appreciate working from home, be it for more quiet, for less commuting time loss, or for more family flexibility. There are many good reasons.

And then last week...

Still, one aspect somehow has not been present in the discussions, at least not in our team. Until last week. We had a virtual team meeting with our group leaders from different sites. I was challenged: “What are the directives on how move forward regarding the use of HomeOffice? Home many days can we work from home?” Well, long story short, we ended at an extremely valuable point: how does the value generation model work in our company? We were soon at the point that our team realized how valuable personal interaction between us is for how we generate value to our customers. We recognized how important it is to have the random interactions in the hallway, the unexpected personal walk-in into the supervisor’s office, the coincidental meeting in the coffee-corner. To informally exchange information. To generate ideas and challenge them, to ask, and change perspectives. Inspire one another. Help. And experience and feel that we are part of a group of humans, and not only a tiny link of a corporate process chain. Group cohesion provides a feeling of safety for us as individuals. It seems so obvious.

What we had overlooked...

And then … the one key aspect we had overlooked: companies do not survive because of their processes, but because of networks of competent and motivated people. These networks fill the gaps that cannot be covered by processes and central directives. When meeting personally, it is so much easier to positively contribute to our corporate network. And this aspect will also help to keep profits healthy. Everyone likes profits, also our associates. Profits mean safe jobs. Even more in current times of economic uncertainty and exploding energy prices. I am pretty sure that our team will not end up with rigid “you must come back to the office 3 days per week” rules.

We will find our "new way"...

Our people are eager to generate value. They will seek and appreciate personal interaction. We will find many new ways to balance personal interests and keep our corporate value generation model running at high efficiency. And our leadership team will be leading by example in this never-seen after-covid field trial. I am looking forward to it.


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