How to Get Your Team Back to the Office

You know what’s even better than a good party? The after-party! Those exclusive get-togethers where the real action happens; news is sparked and deals are made. 

Zoom meetings have extinguished the after-party.

Remember when we used to get together in meeting rooms at the office? The little huddles that occurred afterwards, inside and outside the room, were often the most significant. We got answers to the questions that didn’t get asked in the group. We learned about what each other was working on and picked up useful tidbits that made us more effective.

I don’t think anyone would argue that being together improves our collaboration.

In a recent conversation with a CEO, she said that her people didn’t want to come back to the office. Employees are focused on the comforts of sleeping in a bit longer, avoiding traffic, seeing more of their kids.
Well, you can’t argue with the power of bunny slippers at home. If you want to bring them back, you must raise the allure of the office. Pile up the benefits so they outweigh the ‘stickiness’ of staying at home. We need benefits strong enough to get butts out of seats.

This is all about emphasis. We need to shift the focus from comfort to creativity and collaboration. Make staying at home less compelling. Here are your tactics:

1. FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out): “Hey, I just had a great conversation with Becky in the hall after our meeting. Was that every insightful Wish you were here.”
2. Power: “I’m going to be meeting up with Zahir and Amanda in my office. I’d like your input on a decision we are making… I don’t think remote participation is going to give you the voice and presence I want you to have.
3. “Social Proof: “The quality team just ran an amazing workshop while keeping socially distanced – they came away with some incredible ideas and seemed really excited to be meeting in person again!
4. “The Gang’s All Here: “It was so good to see Dana and Nader again. We spent a few minutes catching up this morning around the board room over coffee.
5. Walk Down Memory Lane: “Remember when we ran that session and burned through 18 topics in an hour? I bet we could do that again if we were all together. Are you in?”

I love a good visual. Here is how Kurt Lewin would explain what we are doing using his Force Field Analysis. Individuals weigh the pros and cons to make a decision. We want to raise the profile of the pros of being in the office. 
Yes, you can mandate them back to work, but it’s so much better when they WANT to be there. Remind them of what they are missing!

Thoughtfully yours,
Jeff