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Dear Work Therapist - Ideas on getting our employees to come back to the office post-pandemic?

Fabian Lim Community Leader Oct 09, 2021

Dear Work Therapist,

Our organization has been working from home since March 2020. We have delivered major projects and proven to executives that going to the office full time is not needed. Many colleages used to commute at least 1 hour a day and believe that it would affect productivity if they go back to the office.

Do you have recommendations on how can we get team members to come to the office? (Assuming that everyone has been vaccinated and covid protocols are followed in the office)

For me, architecture & design meetings would be ideal to have people do it in person and grabbing lunch together.


Please share your thoughts.


@Fabian Lim  -  Thanks for this post.  I am not work therapist but I would try to share my views on it.

  1.  There are certain advantages on face to face to meetings where we need to have eye contacts and expressions. I  know video conferencing is an alternative way but if you need to have these discussions which require eye contacts, expressions, empathise people then I guess old school round table discussions would be best. I think Brainstorming can be one of my preferences applicable here.
  2. I think Productivity should be measured in that way whether the person is delivering the best in a time bound way so if someone is sitting 18 hours in front of their work station and delivering the output which can be done in 8 hours I guess their supervisors won't call them super productive and this would impact their social life too. So, I think people should be effective and maintain a balance of work and life.
  3. I think coming to office and work should depend on individuals preference and following Govt. guidelines and other social restrictions but we can encourage people and try at least one a week coming to office and see if there is any improvement in team performance or any challenges faced. 

Happy to hear from others.



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Fabian Lim Community Leader Oct 12, 2021

Thanks for sharing your insights.

Like Suvradip Paul likes this
Dave Liao Community Leader Oct 09, 2021

Focus on small things first - like meetings.

When scheduling meetings, are they done with intention? What is the goal of the scheduled meeting? Is there a clear agenda? 

Are there meetings that would greatly benefit from in-person interaction over virtual? Encourage teammates to travel for these types of meetings. 

An hour in-person is less exhausting and more productive than virtual*

* not scientific

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Fabian Lim Community Leader Oct 12, 2021

Agreed. A clear agenda is fundamental to determine whether people need to come in or not.

Hi @Fabian Lim,

I am one of those people who still believes we should learn from what happened during the pandemic. Everyone noticed how the quality of air, our impact on the climate, the stress and time lost from commuting - everybody at the same time - had changed so much for the better.

Didn't we all promise ourselves that we would learn from that and never make those same mistakes again? Yet now, traffic jams in our country are longer than they were pre-covid, there's no meeting rooms available at the office because everyone needs one at the same time, many people are sitting at the office next to each other doing stuff they can perfectly do (spoiler alert: even more productively) from home. 

But yes, we also saw how we miss being part of a team, how the social interaction and friendship with our team mates helps us get energised.

If you'd ask me, motivating people to get back to the office works best if you then and there address that need. Make sure you do stuff together, leave time and space for social interaction and some fun. Leave some room for teams to team up again! 

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Dave Liao Community Leader Oct 09, 2021

Leave some room for teams to team up again! 

Well said! 

Fabian Lim Community Leader Oct 12, 2021

Thanks for sharing.

Hi @Fabian Lim 

Several things I would like to see if I'm asked to come back to office :

  • More opportunities to celebrate together: potluck, BBQ, free breakfast, etc.
  • Post-it wars:
  • More room for team activities: hackathon, swarming, community volunteering, etc.
  • Things I cannot have at home for being more efficient. Example more Nureva walls for hybrid workshops (design thinking, PI planning, etc.)  
  • Additional services to save time: laundry, haircut, tire change service at office, etc.   
  • Ability for each team to discuss value streams and ability to review their own WoW (including remote days, etc.) several times a year, to optimize collaboration
  • Empathy! Example in my area: currently, it's really difficult to find a place in daycare... If I have to choose between my baby and come back to the office...

Interesting discussion 

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Fabian Lim Community Leader Oct 12, 2021

Great points. Thanks for sharing.

Earlier this year I posted this picture...


As coach, I really like when teams take time to define/review their WoW and have great conversations based on company policy, value stream, individual feelings, team values, etc. And are supported by management.

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John M Funk Community Leader Oct 10, 2021

For me, there is no better fellowship than sharing a meal. If you can figure a cost effective way to invite the team to get together for even just a few hours to eat together and enjoy being with each other again. I think they will realize how much they had truly missed it. 

Yes, there are some financial benefits of work from home, but to me, they are not worth social sacrifice and feeling of family that forms with truly great teams. 

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Fabian Lim Community Leader Oct 12, 2021

This would be one of my incentives. Thanks.

Hello everyone 😃,

As @Sedera Randria mentioned, empathy is everything.

Whatever you choose needs to involve all the possibilities to embrace everyone and all the contexts. 

Nice discussion!!

Have a lovely week, Community!! 🤩

Like # people like this

Dear @Fabian Lim ,

I think it comes down to the WHY behind going back to the office.

  • Is it for better communication? Or camaraderie?
  • Workstyle preference?
  • Or because it's the new policy?

Because if teammates genuinely want to come back to the office, I'd play into what they want. And if you don't know, ask them.

Once y'all head back into the office, sharing what that experience is like (photos, comments, references to the benefit of in-person design workshops) might get folks excited to join. However, if that doesn't excite them, then perhaps going to the office isn't the best workstyle for them. And if that's the case, I challenge you and the team to think about why it's important for remote folks to collaborate in-person if they find it easier to work collaboratively digitally.

One reason I think working from an office is helpful, regardless of workstyle, is when new teams are getting to know each other. There's something about picking up on people's energy and reading body language that is irreplaceable for new teammates. And if your need that for newly formed teams, perhaps a one-time retreat or "offsite" might be helpful.



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Fabian Lim Community Leader Oct 12, 2021

Thanks for sharing!

One thing to think about is taking everything into consideration. Some people like to WFH, they feel more productive, they feel like like they don't waste time in traffic, they feel like they get less interruptions. Some people like to work in the office, they miss the interactions, miss the collaborative work, miss the face to face meetings. So then consider a hybrid mode, Some WFH days, with some work in the office days, then make sure you schedule your face to face meetings for those days in the office.

Fabian Lim Community Leader Oct 17, 2021

Thanks for sharing.

I like WFH but I don't think its productive

Kishan Sharma Community Leader Oct 15, 2021

I have heard of companies starting to incentivize employees to work from office eg- like providing free meals, free pick/up drop facility etc.

Like Fabian Lim likes this
Fabian Lim Community Leader Oct 17, 2021

Free pick ups and meals I'm in for that.

Like Kishan Sharma likes this

Why do you want them at the office? 

Interesting question - I would look at it from the other side and instead of asking "how to get my team back to the office?" I would ask "Do we really need to get them to the office?".

If your team is able to deliver complex projects while they're working from home and they want to keep working from home, then forcing them to go back to the office might not be the best thing to do.

Post pandemics more and more people value flexibility and convincing people to come back might have side effects on your team culture.

If the reason to get back is to do some team-bonding then maybe monthly get-togethers might be a better idea :)


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