Hybrid work? Yes, but not like this.

Apple is requiring their people to come back to the office three days a week.

Tiktok is doing the same.

Google is also cutting pay by up to 25% if you work from home (granted this has to do with Silicon Valley’s rent situation, but still).

Thing is, these three are far from being the only companies to do it, and by the looks of it, it seems that in the next few months we’ll be seeing organizations rushing people back in the offices.

All of this while a pandemic is still very much up and running…

All of this while people have got used to this reality – and unsurprisingly, not everyone is a fan of the idea.

Organizations are pulling in, people want to remain out

It’s been rough to get used to working from home, but after more than a year we’ve found our rhythm and balance, which in most cases works so much better than before: more time, more control, less of a rush once things got settled.

Take commuting times for example: for many there are none right now, so why would we want to be adding them back? Some people would rather quit than go back in.

Some people would rather quit than go back to an office.

To be honest I’m not sure what exact model we’ll be ending up with – I don’t think anyone knows for sure – but by the looks of it it’s going to be a hybrid work model: a few days from home, a few days in the office.

We’ll see lots of trial and error of course but there is one key aspect here.

To make any hybrid work model work, there is one thing that organizations need to address right now, before anything else if they want to have any chance of success.

The fact that we are not used to it anymore.

We are not used to working in person anymore. 

Think about it: this past year has been remote.

Remote communication

Remote work

Remote parties even.

Nothing was done in person and every interaction we had has been filtered through a digital interface.

We’ve been through all of that and even came up with the term zoom fatigue for a reason: because it was exhausting.

Let me tell you this though…

It will be just as exhausting having to interact with others all day long.

It will be just as exhausting having to interact with others all day long.

For example, last week I had my first in-person workshop after a year and a half, and that was much, much more exhausting than I had anticipated.

The workshop per se was safe, we all tested negative and it went well, but we could all agree on one thing: we are not used to being with others for hours at a time anymore.

We got so used to keeping others at a distance that re-engaging with them, reconnecting, simply feeling at ease in a closed space with other people is difficult.

We got used to feel disconnected from others, and if organizations force us to reconnect by simply bringing us back to the office, we will leave and look for an alternative.

If organizations don’t act and re-engage their people, people will leave

That’s the real concern

If you recognize yourself in all you’ve read before, first of all you are not alone.

And if you are an organization, find a way to re-engage your employees. Figure out what they want and need and deliver it.

Best way to go?

Rely on your managers.

Rely on your managers.

Your organization has not kept in touch with your people. Your managers have.

Your organization has not solved conflicts, organised work, heard your people’s voice. Your managers have.

And your organization is not the one that will relate to people, your managers will.

Your managers are your ambassadors: trust is not given to an entity, it’s given to the person that represents that entity.

So acknowledge it, give leaders the perspective, the skills and the tools they need to re-engage with others – and if you are a manager be conscious of your role and start working.

Keep it up, and you’ll do great.

Keep it up, and you’ll do great.

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