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Is this a fun place to work?
I keep seeing the post-pandemic in-person office reboot as an opportunity.
Consider how the office was in 2019. What did you like? What did other people like? Let’s make sure to bring THAT back.
What didn’t you like? What did people say they didn’t like in their exit interviews? Let’s change that.
You can make it happen.
Consider how things could be better. Develop a vision for these improvements. Then share that vision with your team, and get their input for improvements and implementation. Then do it!
Make your office a place your people WANT to be. Consider environmental factors (light, space, comfy chairs, etc.), of course. However, those can cost a lot of money, so also consider the things that don’t cost a lot but can improve the quality of life and morale. Sometimes, simple improvements then positively impact productivity, retention, and client satisfaction.
When in doubt, offer food.
People love “Donut Fridays,” or pizza with their Lunch’n’Learn, or having a farmer’s market cart stop by a couple of times a week so they can buy locally-grown fruits and veggies to take home. Make sure to ask what people what THEY want, and make sure to include appropriate options for people with dietary restrictions.
Find fun ways to blow off steam.
I once went to an office that had weekly nerf-gun battles between two departments on Friday afternoons. Another place had summer cookouts. Yet another got group seats for local minor-league games. Again, find out what your people enjoy, and see if there are ways to make those things happen.
Side note: my staffers love to suggest “Let’s go to Hawaii!” When I ask this. It helps to start with a few of your own options, so they can then give suggestions that are within the budget. The goal is to associate being in-person with positive feelings, a sense of “I’m glad I’m here.” Find things that build team-spirit and make people happy.
Make this a two-way conversation.
You might have many great ideas. You might really want to implement YOUR ideas. But your ideas may or may not be the ones that best resonate with your staffers. Make sure to listen to THEIR suggestions with a mindset of “what would they like even more?” if you want this in-person reboot to have the most positive impact.
Timing is everything.
Make sure your people are ready, willing, and able to return to an in-person workplace. One of the most significant factors right now is access to safe and affordable childcare options, particularly since kids under 12 can’t yet be vaccinated, and since many childcare providers went out of business over the past year. Childcare may be difficult or impossible to find for many working parents. Work with your staffers to make sure they have what they need to do their jobs well, which may include things like keeping remote or hybrid remote/in-person) options until school starts in September.