Have you returned to the office and realized that people are too distant?
A few months ago, many people wanted to return to the office and took to social media to express their concerns and the steps they would take to ensure safety. Today, a significant number of companies have granted the wish, but unknowingly, some people do not seem enthusiastic about the move. Why is that the case?
After months of working from home, it does not come as a surprise that those who have now returned to the office may not communicate as they did previously. They may be on their screens for hours with countable and short physical exchanges with their colleagues thus making the workplace awfully quiet.
One of the reasons why many people craved to return to the office was to reconnect and reduce the fatigue that comes with being on the screen for long. But if there is little to no physical communication, then one would wonder whether the return was a mistake that needs to be reverted.
In this article, we will examine this matter and some corrective and preventive measures you can implement.
a. Be patient and set realistic expectations
It is unlikely that habits that have been learned and reinforced for months can be eliminated in a day or week. In as much as your employees know that offline communication is essential for feeling connected, some were used to being alone or around people they do not need formalities with. Therefore, they may not communicate physically as they used to immediately after the grand return.
As a business leader, if there are no grave consequences for the lack of physical communication at the moment, give the matter some time to take shape. You should also know that as long as we are facing the pandemic, then it is unlikely that people will interact as they used to before it. You should however not rush to cancel working from the office. As long as your team members are under the same roof, they are recognizing each other’s presence and with time, they will open up for communication.
b. Advocate for breaks and communication
To return the culture of communication, you ought to take actions that pave the way for it. One of them is physical meetings whenever possible, of course while adhering to the safety measures. This is an excellent way of reminding your team that they do not need to pass every message online and can communicate physically as long as they are taking the necessary precautions. The short chats as they settle in the meeting rooms or brainstorm can reignite the culture of communication.
c. Ensure strict adherence to safety guidelines
One reason why workplaces may be surprisingly silent in spite of people working in them is lack of adherence to safety guidelines. A large number of people have experienced the wrath of the pandemic head-on. Some were unwell, some were stuck in certain places for weeks or months, some lost their loved ones, some witnessed stigmatization of those who were unwell, and others had to take care of their loved ones for weeks.
As a result, those who experienced such may be skeptical about being in places that seem to expose them to health risks. While taking strides to make your team members to communicate and reduce their screen time and the accompanying fatigue, then consider their sources of fear and do the needful.
d. If the resistance exceeds, investigate the cause
It may also happen that in spite of taking the actions listed above, your employees are not communicating. While there is no rulebook that states the amount of time that your people can take to interact again, you will know when the silence is a symptom for an underlying problem. You should investigate the matter. There may be some underlying conflicts amongst people or departments that could not come to light while they were working from their homes.
Communication remains an essential element for organizational growth. It is therefore important to heighten your efforts of cultivating it to reap the benefits.