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Bringing the Meetings Team Back Together

With so many people comfortable and productive while working from home, managers need smart plans for getting people to return to the office for occasional face-to-face interaction—without draining their motivation.

As Covid seems to be fading from the pandemic phase and moving towards being endemic, like the flu, many organizations are trying to get their employees to come back into the office at least a few days each week. Why? To rekindle the “quality face time” that management thinks existed before March 2020.

However, after two years of remote work, many teams have developed new ways of interacting via technology that seem to get the job done. For team leaders, then, the challenge is to build a plan for part-time office attendance that fulfills the goal—quality interaction that sparks new ideas and strengthens interpersonal bonds—without making employees feel like the effort to commute is simply not worth it. In fact, WFH Research reported in late March that its survey of more than 32,000 people in 25 economies found that the average worker values a day working from home each week the same as a five-percent rise in pay.

This article from offers some potential solutions for managers who are trying to get people back to the office for one, two, or three days a week. For instance, it notes that “companies need to be smarter about how to make hybrid scheduling work. Simply telling people to come in two days a week doesn’t facilitate collaboration. A more thoughtful approach would be for teams to map out what they truly need to collaborate on, with whom, and when, and then plan schedules accordingly—and acknowledge that some weeks there may be no need to come in at all.”

If a plan is implemented without using a big-picture perspective along with input from the team, a meetings-department manager might find out from an employee who resigns that their main reason for leaving was this, according to the article: 

“The stated logic was that going to the office allows valuable and, in some cases, spontaneous face-to-face interactions and collaborations to occur that just don’t happen over Zoom. If that were true, maybe I could get on board. But much of the time when I come in, I am the only member of my team (or of the group of employees with whom I typically interact outside of my team) on the premises.

“I spend two hours commuting each day to sit in an office and speak to no one except by email or Zoom—as I would have done at home. I am growing more resentful each time I arrive at my desk and see the offices of my other team members empty. I feel like several hours a week of my time are being stolen from me and my family for no reason, and my motivation for work has tanked.”

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