- James Lord
Being in-person matters… because our people need to come first.
We all went through a massive paradigm shift when we were forced to shelter in place and work from home for months/years during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Lives were changed forever. I don’t want to downplay any of the trauma or loss we experienced from this unimaginable period in our lives that we experienced as a human species.
That said, in many, many ways, our freedoms and lives have returned to normal. Sure, many of us are scarred from the mental (and maybe physical) toll that being secluded in our homes for so long took on us. Nevertheless, we’re free to “return to normal”. Yet, we still see signs of some who firmly believe they would rather continue to shelter in place. (i.e. work from home).
My team and I recently delivered in-person Town Hall style meeting updates to hundreds of associates across multiple offices nationwide. The energy in those meetings is palpable. The feedback from our associates was overwhelmingly positive. The emotions were real. We laughed together. We celebrated milestones and recognition together. We cried and mourned the recent loss of two of our coworker friends together. All of these emotions were different, or should I say “better,” because we were together.
Pure emotions dome come through in a Zoom call – you don’t see the quiver in someone’s cheek because they’re nervous about presenting for the first time in front of a large group or the tear building in someone’s eye who is getting emotional over the loss of a friend, a signal that you need to take one more minute to pause and appreciate them before moving on. Whether we know it or not or choose to admit it, we lose things in translation when we’re 100% remote. Handshakes, hugs, proud smiles, pats on the back, photos with your friends, having a meal together, toasting a milestone together, and simply having the chance to feel the energy again that we’ve been starving for only come by being back together in person.
If you manage remote teams, do not discount the importance of bringing them together one in a while. If it’s been months since you’ve been in front of your teams or associates, then stop procrastinating and find a way to get in front of them. If budget is a concern, then you need to prioritize your people above other projects you’re investing in. After all, those projects will fail if your people disengage and fail. Chat-GPT isn’t able to run your business; your employees do. Get in front of them. Communicate openly and regularly with them. Bring them along for the journey. Ask for their ideas and feedback. Be authentic. Be genuine. Don’t assume that everybody would be better off working from home. We were never built to be solitary beings. We thrive in communities. We thrive in groups and in teams. We’re better when we’re together. Our people need to come first. It’s time to act and bring the band back together again.
PS: These are my views and opinions and mine only – I know these views are not widely received by all. If you have opposing views, and examples of how those views are working better for you, I’d love to learn more from you in the comments below.