Make Your In-Office Days CountMar 15, 2023
- By Sophie Pinkoski
As the urgency of the current pandemic situation subsides, many people are returning to the office for some work days. However, returning to pre-pandemic office normalcy may never come. Adapting to hybrid teams and being purposeful with office days will be key.
Your team members now know what they’re capable of when working remotely and therefore will be returning to spending time in the office with certain expectations.
Most significantly, they seek a sense of purpose in their work that aligns with their personal values.
According to McKinsey, 70% of workers are now seeking purposeful work. In order to engage with this shift in perspectives, a return to working in the office must be introduced in a thoughtful and well-planned way. Your team will want to schedule their time in-office as intentionally as possible to maximize their productivity.
So, what can be done to support your team’s in-office efficiency?
Schedule shorter, more frequent meetings – One thing the pandemic has changed significantly about the way we work is how people have become much more frugal with their time. In fact, pre-pandemic meetings were much longer. We’ve since seen a 20.1% decrease in meeting times since the start of the pandemic. With virtual meetings dominating throughout the past three years, screen fatigue, paired with a greater investment in healthy work-life balance has meant individuals have become more selective about how they distribute their working hours. Remote work has also accounted for a need for more frequent check-in meetings to maintain connections we once maintained in-office. As a result, meetings have become more regular, yet to the point.
These habits should shift over to your in-person meetings; it shows your team that you respect and value their time.
Preparation, preparation, preparation – In order to distribute your time effectively in meetings, prepare your content and brief your participants in advance. Every meeting should have an agenda sent at least 24 hours beforehand to give people time to consider the topics at hand, contribute thoughtful discussion, and ask any clarifying questions. Your team meetings should be just as meticulously planned.
Ensure that anyone presenting on a particular topic is given time to prepare their materials accordingly and by the end of the meeting, reiterate the most important decisions and ideas shared, identify action items, and delegate tasks to the appropriate team members.
This way, everyone is clear on the meeting’s purpose and what needs to be done with resulting information moving forward.
Limit your in-person meetings to what can’t be done virtually – While virtual meetings have revolutionized the way we work, it does have its limitations. Certain nuances are lost in an online format, which makes it difficult to manage things like sensitive issues or building strong connections. In-office meetings are therefore most effective for problem-solving, team building, and brainstorming in particular.
Individuals often feel much more comfortable and confident sharing their ideas and opinions in person, where they can ease into the conversation and better read the room.
The intimacy an in-office meeting offers also makes it easier to make room for questions and clarifications. Virtual meetings don’t quite facilitate that same level of human connection an in-person meeting allows. For this reason, virtual meetings are far more effective for casual check-ins, while in-person meetings can be saved for more collaborative efforts. Both serve their own functional purpose.
Be purposeful about scheduling your team members’ in-office days – If we can identify what requires an in-person meeting, we can do the same to effectively balance our time between remote and in-office work. Everyone works differently.
It’s important as a leader to understand your team members’ unique working styles.
In-office work time is best allocated toward brainstorming innovative new ideas and connecting with the rest of your team. Meanwhile, work that is more independent can largely be done remotely. When individuals can come into the office with the intention to complete a specific task, they can avoid unnecessary distractions while still forming meaningful human connections with their team.
Return to working at the office should be both person- and purpose-first.
Above all, your team wants to know they are dedicating their time to something meaningful when they come into the office.
Encourage teams to take the lead on building their own in-office schedule and be as deliberate as possible when it comes to booking in-person meetings. Making strategic decisions about the use of in-office days will ensure they are much more impactful for everyone.