From office space to human resource management to business operations, hybrid work has forever changed the workplace. It has also evolved the workforce. A recent Microsoft and LinkedIn work trend survey of 30,000 people in 31 countries found that more than 70% of workers want the flexibility to work from home, while 65% crave more in-person time with their teams. It’s clear that people want the autonomy to work remotely, as much as they want to reconnect with colleagues and peers.
Emerging from nearly two years of isolation, we learned that work from home (WFH) increased productivity, lowered overhead, and reduced office footprint (and rent). But what’s good for business isn’t necessarily good for people.
WFH has eroded shared experiences, professional development and company culture. Research points to high levels of loneliness, stress and depression, with additional evidence that both hard and soft skills, such as communication, problem solving, and conflict resolution are diminishing with less in-person interactivity and training. Other reports find WFH overrated with detrimental impacts on creativity.
Many businesses are approaching 2022 with flexible work plans, which is a good start in rebuilding relationships and corporate culture. But it’s not enough. Amidst “The Talent War”, the “Great Resignation,” and 10,000 Baby Boomers turning 65 every day through 2030, senior leadership needs to create greater opportunities for meaningful collaboration beyond zoom meetings, water cooler talk and conference room convenings. Teams need dedicated, purposeful space and place to reconnect.
Here are three reasons why offsites are crucial for rebuilding teams and retaining top talent.
- Connect people to purpose. The pandemic has offered an incredible exercise in empathy. In business, it taught leaders to truly put people first, both employees and customers. Now is the time to build on this momentum. Greater interconnectedness results in greater productivity and satisfaction. Team time outside of the office creates space for bigger picture conversations where individuals understand their unique value to the company and to one another.
- Rebuild interpersonal skills. There is a critical need for human connection, including emotional connection. Rebounding from two years of isolation requires deep and focused time and space to strengthen interpersonal communication, collaboration and problem-solving skills. This doesn’t happen over two or three days in the office each week.
- Drive morale and exceed expectations. Across the board, 2022 brings a new era of employee expectations. Top talent wants greater flexibility, improved health and wellness programs, and a clear career path. In a hot job market, take every opportunity to show people that you care and are invested in their wellbeing and growth. Nothing says “I value you” more than meaningful professional and personal development.