In today’s remote/hybrid environment, more organizations/teams are bringing everyone together, in person, for multiple days. Be sure to make the most of that time by planning for deep dives, skill building, and relationship building, rather than endless meetings that could have been done over zoom. Those deeper dives are super important, and they work much better when you’re in person for an extended period of time. Here are some workshops and trainings that we offer.
Some are still debating whether or not remote work is here to stay, but I personally think the debate is over. The toothpaste is out of the tube, folks. Some organizations may decide everyone needs to be back at the office, but I think they will remain a minority. I think it will become an accepted truth for most organizations that people will continue to work in places OTHER than in the office a heck of a lot more than they did before COVID. I’d say 2 days a week at home is probably close to the average for office workers (and they probably want 3).
By now you’ve probably figured out there’s no “best practice” in how to do a hybrid office. Every office is going to have to figure it out for themselves, and it is going to be complex. You’ve got some people who like to come into the office a lot, but you also have some people who now live in other cities. It’s never going to be one-size-fits all.
But here’s another basic truth: Getting your whole team together, in person, is important.
There are certain elements of work that simply work better when you have extended time together, in person. If you’re going to do a four-hour strategy meeting with 20 people, you shouldn’t do it on zoom. For the record, you CAN do it on zoom, and for some organizations, flying everyone in for some of those meetings every time is prohibitively expensive, so they use zoom. But the truth is, long, complex meetings are easier to do when you’re in person, where you can hang out with people during the breaks, and read the room better with peripheral vision.
That’s also why skills training work better in person. Again, you CAN do these trainings virtually—I did a lot of that during the pandemic—but when you do them in person, you also get the added benefit of people doing casual debriefing of the learning during breaks or meals, which makes the application of the new skills easier.
And both retreats and trainings give your people time to build their relationships, which is critical if you want effective collaboration. This is why Gallup asks that stupid “do you have a best friend at work” question—better relationships help us get better and more work done together. And, once again, you CAN build relationships using online tools (Maddie and I met via social media for goodness sake), but it is easier and faster when you’re together.
This is why a lot of companies are now planning regular “staff weeks” where they bring everyone together in person for at least a few days. I think this is one of the best side effects of the pandemic. We should have been doing more staff retreats anyway, but being busy prevented it. Now we have the opportunity to do them a couple of times a year.
But for the love of all things holy, please don’t bring your staff all together for several days and then have them sit in back-to-back staff and team meetings that they could have done over zoom. Use the time together wisely. Plan for deep dives, skill building, and lots of unstructured time for building relationships, and maybe even having a little fun.
I designed a staff retreat for a team of about 50 people in December. It was spread over two days and it focused on identifying the key behaviors this team needed to commit to if they were going to successfully manage the big changes that they were planning in the new year. The clarity we achieved would have been nearly impossible if we did it virtually. This is one of several workshops and trainings that we are now offering to organizations that want to make the most of their extended time together.