How Business Leaders Should Call Their People Back to The Office

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    By Pen Pendleton, CLP Strategies

    As the threat of Covid-19 virus abates, companies are ordering their employees back to the office. In downtowns and office parks nationwide, thousands of desk chairs and cubicles await.

    Few are optimistic, however. A survey by The Partnership for New York City found only 5% of employers expect daily attendance will exceed 50% capacity by the third quarter. .
    The office is a challenging place, but challenge is the precondition for success and success often starts by just showing up. That’s an important message and now is time for corporate leaders to step up and advocate effectively for the Great Return. How? Here are three suggestions:

    1.      First, clearly address employees’ long-term interests. Given top executives’ own experience and career trajectories, they can draw on their own experience with genuine credibility. They can unreservedly assert that professional experience is deeper and more meaningful in person. They can remind staff that the workplace is where mentors are met, knowledge and emotional intelligence grows, teamwork unfolds organically.

    2.      Second, leaders must articulate the shared benefits of career and business success. As managers and colleagues exchange knowledge, meet performance standards, and hold each other accountable, the process sustains an ever more competitive culture. That culture accrues to greater success, individual and collective.

    3.      Third, leaders should communicate that the organization can be flexible – up to a point. Clearly, the pandemic has opened alternatives that enhance work/life balance and support greater productivity. Nevertheless, scope for some remote work doesn’t preclude a commitment to core time in the office with colleagues and clients.

    Logging in from the sofa simply cannot substitute for the learning, knowledge and emotional intelligence gained by working shoulder to shoulder with colleagues. Delivering this messages is not a straightforward task for corporate CEOs and their c-suite teams. It requires plucking their charges out of the comfort zone they have inhabited for the best part of two years. But the leaders who communicate effectively will re-set the professional and personal lives of many who have been so destabilized by the pandemic.

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