Back to the office, now what?

Back to the office, now what?

Let’s talk, how you are individually reintegrating back into the office.

Are you looking forward to transitioning back into the office?

Maybe you have started coming into the office and find it to be completely unproductive.

Being called into last minute meetings, chit chat water cooler talk, catch up with colleagues and not to mention the amount of time you are being interrupted.

The stats don’t look pretty…. once interrupted it takes 25 minutes to regain the same level of focus and concentration you were at before you were interrupted.

How many times are you bring interrupted during an office day?

No wonder there is resistance moving back to working from the office, it is frustrating as you have a list of things to complete, only for the day to get derailed.

There is an answer to this problem…

Before covid I found the same problem when consulting, I had one day at best in the office, the rest of the week I was out either delivering, coaching, or consulting. 

I had a long list of things I needed to get done before client meetings and coaching sessions, only to get derailed or distracted by the hum of the office environment, leaving me with hours of work to do when I eventually got home.

The reality…

The days in the office are going to be less productive for deep work; the more we put pressure on ourselves the more stress we create and that is not good for deep work, creativity and decision making.  

When you are stressed, cortisol starts circulating around your system, which has a negative influence on prefrontal cortex (PFC), which is the executive function of the brain; the one responsible for thoughts, behaviour, and emotions (decision making, creativity and focus). As it starts to inhibit the prefrontal cortex we have weaker control of our thoughts, emotions, and actions; meaning we are not in the most optimal state to be making decisions, being creative or completing deep focussed work as we are in a heightened state of survival.

It is complex and involves more than the PFC. I’m over simplifying it and you can read more about this article from Anchorage press.

Cortisol can be good for short bursts of life and death situations. However, when activated for long periods such as uncertainty, work pressure, tight deadlines etc. it will have long term negative health impacts such as depression, anxiety, tension, heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke.

I’m not doing this justice, you can read the article from the Mayo clinic to find out more.

The Solution

  1. Have a purpose of what you would like to achieve, be realistic about the types of work you can complete in the office.
  2. Schedule your deep work for times at home when you can work without distraction.
  3. Stick to transactional work, like emails or WIPs or project check-ins
  4. Network. This is an opportunity to meet colleagues and build relationships
  5. Develop a stakeholder power map; identify who in the organisation you need to build your brand and influence with to progress projects, pieces of work and get buy in from.

If you don’t take control of what you can influence, you will be at the whim of others, and it will increase the stress and anxiety of transitioning back to the office. 

Acceptance!

You are not going to be as productive or focused initially when your return to the office, but once you have accepted this it will free up your headspace to be more intentional and purposeful with your time and energy. In return, you will gain clarity and focus on better organisational outcomes, not to mention better health outcomes.

If you are finding yourself feeling anxious, unproductive, or lacking focus click the link here to schedule a strategy call, we can create a plan to help you integrate back into a hybrid work environment, lower stress levels and increase focus. Alternatively, if you know someone who would benefit from talking to someone about this, share the link. 

No obligation or sales chat, just practical advice.

Reintegration Strategy?

Reintegrate to the office

Reintegration strategy?

What is your staff reintegration strategy?

After what seems like years we are finally returning to the office, and for some it has been a long time coming and for others there is angst and maybe a little anxiety returning to the office.

One thing to note is not everyone will react the same,

While others love the office environment, others have gotten use to working from home.

Some of the team will be new and you have never met them face to face, for them it is a first day of work again.

As a leader you may want to see everyone back in the office because that’s where everyone needs to be and you can cut down on the email and teams chats.

Maybe you even have an office and that is a better environment than being at home, but that is not the same for everyone.

The reality for most is…..

 

The office is going to be a very unproductive experience, with open plan desks, other people talking, chatting about other things apart from work and not to mention,

‘let’s grab a meeting room quickly for a meeting’.

Before you know it, the day has gone and you have the dreaded commute home with the traffic, trains and being in close proximity to other people.

Is there an expectation to work on the train if you leave early answering emails and completing the work you should have done in works time, or is this still works time?

No doubt we are all different, so we will have to take a slightly different approach with each person to manage the reintegration back to the office environment.

How do you manage all the complexity that comes with this?

One word be ‘intentional’ when it comes to your leadership.

 

I have put together a couple of strategies to consider to maximise your results

Call a team meeting to discuss the following:

  • Vision, mission, strategy and where the team fit in
  • Welcome new members, introduce team goals, chart progress
  • Acknowledge the transition back
  • Core office hours
  • Expectations of working in the office and remotely
  • Understand ways of working or working styles
  • Accept lower productivity (for a time, while staff re acquaint themselves back into the ways of working)
  • Clarify communications for meetings, 1:1’s, informal and formal interactions (teams, chat, zoom or face to face,  etc)
  • When you are not in the office how are we going to communicate to make sure no one is missing out on the discussion.
  • Dress, what do we wear? (What is and what isn’t appropriate)

Set up your 1:1 conversations with each member of staff. Preferably face to face to maximise the time spent in the office to network and build relationships. These can be adapted further down the track to virtual if it works best.

Performance management discussions. Take time to sit down with each member to discuss performance, expectations, goals, kpi’s and targets. Consider a performance agreement, it should be a 2 way discussion not a one way being told what they must do.

This may all seem a bit overkill.

The reality is, this approach will create certainty with your team members, cut down the mental toll of overthinking on the way in and way out of work.

When they turn up it is clear what they are expected to do and don’t feel the pressure of what is not being said when you leave early or not in the office that day.

If your team members have certainty, they will be able to start producing results and contributing to the workplace. It is akin to having psychological safety, in which they will start focussing on the important things that move the needle, rather than focussing on self-preservation.

Again, some team members will just get on with it, and you may not need to cover all the points above.

We all deal with change differently, have empathy with others as they all transition back into the office.

Slow down to speed up!

It will fast track the transition back to the office into the new normal and enable people to focus on the important things that will drive the organisation forward.

If you would like to discuss your approach and use me as a sounding board, get in contact with me for a free strategy session.

 

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