Placing balloons all around the office will not be sufficient for making the environment to which people are returning more motivating and productive, we have to think about how to keep the employee’s empowerment in regard to the “how”, while the leaders provide the direction on the “what for”.
With the pandemic we learned that we can be productive from home; that when we have clear goals and we are aware of what is expected of each one of us, no matter where we are, the result is reached all the same. However, we are living a return to presential work that appears to be more of a step backward than progress in the world of work.
One of the great challenges in the culture of companies during the pandemic and remote work was trusting people. Many team leaders and general managers were more focused on finding systems to control what people did from their homes than on developing frameworks to ensure the clarity of innovative goals and tools to collaborate in a more evolved virtual world. Although it is worth noting that some organizations did do this, and they will be the ones with the advantage as employers in the war for talent.
The question is, why do we want people to return to the office? Beyond the fact that personal contact is important, the idea of a general return poses a disruption on what was being achieved in regard to empowering people in relation to “how” to achieve their goals. Will we return to productivity based on chair-hours?
The pandemic posed a challenge to the role of the team leader, focusing more on two powerful objectives: on the one hand, the clear definition of goals, which finally found the way of valuing performance over the hours that the collaborator spent at the office; on the other hand, the role of connection made us think of ways for truly communicating as a team, beyond distances and, above all, from the reality of each person.
As leaders, we understood that each collaborator has a context of which, in many cases, we became aware of for the first time, and this helped us diversify our way of connecting and coordinating in a way in which we started to construct an environment that integrated both the collaborator and the person. In other words, we came to see the obvious, except that we had to take that which is obvious into consideration at a time in which, in order to get results in the middle of the pandemic, we understood the collaborator in his personal, family and social context.
In face of these changes, we also witnessed the evolution of the definition of compromise. We no longer saw what was happening on the other side of the screen, we were only able to perceive the obtained result. Additionally, those collaborators who not only cared about ensuring that their part was completed but went beyond and became an axis of communication for their peers, clients and suppliers, also became the ones that were most highly recognized.
What are we going to do with all of these new skills that were developed in the virtual environment? How could we translate them into and make good use of them in presential work?”
Placing balloons all around the office will not be sufficient for making the environment to which people are returning be motivating, we have to think about how to reconnect, how to achieve a balance, how to generate comfort and, above all, how to keep the employee’s empowerment in regard to the “how”, while the leaders provide the direction on the “what for”, conscious that the challenges that we will face will be increasingly complex.
This is not a minor matter, the implication of not doing it is the loss of talent. It is therefore urgent that organizations have plans for the transformation of the culture in this new reality and that we understand that the threat of losing talent is not only against other companies, but also against the possibility of working in a different manner.
People realized that we do not need to be employed by a company or work full time in order to reach professional fulfillment and success, because we learned that we can contribute to companies through much more flexible schemes and, at the same time, fulfill our personal dreams.