Forgotten How to be Social at Work?

As the pandemic morphs into an endemic, many remote workers are being asked to return to the office — some are less excited about it than others. In this episode of My Crazy Office, Kathi and Katherine ask the question, “Have you forgotten how to be social at work?” If so, here’s what you can do about it.

Returning to the Office – Will Not Be Business As Usual

In the post COVID world, a return to the way things were in our traditional workplace is most likely not possible. The new standards of how we work at an office are being set for at least the next one to two years, or is it forever?

Is having an office space necessary?

Will we return to the office at all? Between 2005-2007 we saw a 5% increase in remote workers and by 2019 43% of Americans said they worked remotely occasionally. Today most of us are experiencing firsthand working from home.  How many of you are realizing that not having to commute is a nice way to go? From my perch, I am hearing that many of you are disinterested in going back to the way things were.

We are also bound to hear that office hours are a thing of the past, as workers will be forced into staggered hours to allow for the safety of six feet of separation between people. The normalization of fewer workers in the office on any given day may mean that less space is required.

Are open floor plans over?

I never understood how anyone thought the open floor plan was a good work environment. Now it looks like a bad fad that has become downright dangerous. Like shag carpet, that trend is over and out, and I’m not sad about it. Originally the thought behind this design was that clustered seating would encourage collaboration.   Instead, it fostered conflict and disruption to the point of a distracted workforce. Bye, Bye.

Business Travel – when is it necessary?

Last year before the pandemic, 62% of American workers traveled to another state for work. That means that roughly 1.1 million people traveled for business each day. Now, this once normal version of work in which we travel distances for face-to-face meetings is not going to return for some time, if ever. Video conferencing is working for now; the cost and logistics around business travel may be prohibitive – not to mention the cost to our environment.

Companies Must Embrace Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility

If there is one lesson to take away from a worldwide pandemic, it’s the fact that we are all connected.  It’s time to understand that we have a moral and ethical obligation not only to ourselves and our workers, but also to humanity. Companies who have always addressed the broader concerns for humanity will be on-purpose while other organizations will have to figure out their place in this new normal. I believe this will matter. Think outside of your community and client base to how you can help make a difference.

Being Authentic at Work

Let’s stop pretending that work and life exist in separate spheres. I’m not talking about work-life balance I’m talking about being more authentic and free to be yourself at work. Now that we are all videoconferencing from home, we are seeing how our co-workers live. Perhaps you are seeing your colleagues’ pets and kids and extended family. Maybe you are learning more about your coworkers’ hobbies or taste in art. These are all things that you might not have been exposed to in the past. The opportunity here is to realize that people are not disembodied humans who come to work. We are whole people with whole lives. This is a moment where we could get to know one another differently.

Kathi Elster – Executive Coach and co-owner of K Squared Enterprises.

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