There is a lot being written about those who work in offices finally returning to those offices. Many wise companies have evaluated or are in the midst of evaluating their needed “office footprint”. I did this well before the onset of our pandemic challenge due to the expiring of a five year lease. My decision to reduce my office size was purely financial. The timing was right. Proper stewardship demanded it. It was an easy decision at the time.
One truly useful “lens change” that has come out of our COVID experience is our view of work, primarily where it can be done. Roles that heretofore were non-negotiable “onsite” roles have been transitioned to a “hybrid” or even to a full “work at home” option. Technology combined with “necessity” allowed us to think differently.
My question is, “What took us so long?” Why did it take a pandemic to rethink where we work? Steadily increasing commute times should have forced us to do this years ago. We have found efficiencies that I, for one, am unwilling to let go. The cost of the lesson was just too high.
With all great “sea-changes” we must remain aware of what can happen on the “backside of the wave”. We, as leaders, must help our teammates avoid isolation by, in some cases, compelling our team to get together in person. Certainly follow all protocols and guide-lines but a once a week in office “team day” may be a good answer. Some of your teammates may not appreciate it at first. That’s okay. Leaders are not always meant to be liked but we must always have our team’s best interests at heart.
We are meant to be together, to live “in community”. I realize that if your company is in Chicago and you work in Nashville that running up the road once a week may not be feasible. I also realize that for many of you your current workmates may not comprise the “community” of which you wish to be a part. If this is the case find a new job. You spend a lot of your valuable time interacting with these people. “Not liking them” is not a mature choice nor a solid way to build your “witness”. It certainly isn’t a long-term career builder.
In the end just remember we are meant to be together. Together still works.
Kevin Anderson, General Manager of Salem Communications Nashville