I was wrong. We are not yet returning to the office!
Sometimes in life you need to listen to others, and then admit, that you were wrong. And this is one of those occasions.
Readers of my newsletter or blog will recall that we had developed a series of workshops focused on helping teams navigate their journey back to the office. I was overly optimistic that towards the end of this year, whilst we might not have found a cure or vaccine for Covid-19, we would have it under control and more of us would be working face to face.
The stark reality is that many of us are living in cities or countries that are facing a second wave or increase in infection rates. The advice continues to be to maintain physical distance, avoid travel and work from home. And whilst we may be returning to work after a summer break, not everyone is ready to return to the office. One company I have been working with has only around 5% of their national workforce back in the office, which is capable of safely accommodating 50%.
The challenges of continuing to work remotely
Much has been written on the challenges, and benefits, of remote or virtual working. In my work, I have been curious about what is changing for people today compared to 6-months ago, when lockdowns began, and how teams are working towards defining their new normal. What I have found is the following:
· Our sense of community, support and togetherness has dropped away. We have moved from ‘WE’ to ‘ME’.
· The flurry of activity and busyness of the early months is not sustainable, with fatigue and stress setting in.
· People are starting to feel (more) disconnected from colleagues and their organisations, despite an increase in corporate level messaging.
· Team leaders are feeling ill equipped or lack the experience to keep their teams engaged. They are also relying heavily on one to one conversations rather than team based dialogue
The SCARF model as a guide
Part of the struggles many of us are facing has been caused by an upheaval in our social interactions and connections. David Rock’s SCARF model (2008) explores the neuroscience about the way people interact socially and involves five domains of human social experience:
1. Status – our relative importance to others.
2. Certainty – our ability to predict the future.
3. Autonomy – our sense of control over events.
4. Relatedness – how safe we feel with others.
5. Fairness – how fair we perceive the exchanges between people to be.
The model is based on neuroscience research that implies that these five social domains activate the same threat and reward responses in our brain that we rely on for physical survival. Going deeper, with some teams, it won’t be a surprise that feelings particularly linked to certainty, autonomy and relatedness are under threat.
Team Identity and Team Performance
So how to respond to these threats. During periods of uncertainty, it is natural for us to look towards the groups or teams that we identify with for support; be it family, friends, faith groups and work teams. Research by the Centre for Team Effectiveness, amongst others, found that having a stronger work team identity results in:
An increase in:
- Job satisfaction
- Overall performance
A decrease in:
- Selfish behaviour
- Turnover or intention to leave
Team Boost – Accelerating team performance during uncertainty
Sometimes we all just need a boost to energise us. The essence of the Heart : Head : Hands Team Boost workshops do just that. Through a series of short sessions you will:
· (Re) connect as a team at an emotional level allowing space to reflect on experiences of the last 6 months
· Create clarity on what you need to do as a team that really matters, at this moment in time
· Articulating the support you need from each other and being clear on ways of working going forward
· Identifying the capabilities, you need to use or develop to be effective now
The series of Team Boost workshops will guide you through the required team conversations to address the above, making your team more resilient, more productive and more engaged.
Photos by Headway on Unsplash