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  • 1.  Return to the office - Another take on authenticity , environment and WFH

    Posted 08-03-2021 09:19

    Identity Crisis - Korn Ferry

    The crux of this article is that working from home has allowed us to be more ourselves at work because our home environment. It has  given us "permission" to be who we are. Our homes are an expression of our truest selves and reinforces that truth of who we are. It is our most comfortable space. Office environments are standardized in part to "homogenize" the workforce and reduce frictions to promote productivity but fall short for inclusiveness and diversity. Work from home (WFH) is, by its nature, more inclusive than the office.  What we've learned from WFH about people, authenticity and productivity and  how employers act on these lessons will be the test for the near future: will they choose "same old, same old" or try to build on what's been learned to get closer to an inclusive, supportive, productive and authentic experience for workers?

    I'm curious what people think. 
    • Has working from home allowed you to be more yourself?
    • Do you think that this might be a consideration as we go back to the office?
    • Will the "rules of engagement" for employees change? 
    • What would you like to be different?
    • What challenges do you see.

    Asking everyone I can think of here: @Quinn Drew @Brianne Haxton @Alison Randall @Mhari Goldstein @Arnie Grahl @Maria Liccardo @Amanda Gose @Nicole Daines @Lindsay Griswold @Chris Weaver  What do you think? 

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    CMW
    Colette Martin-Wilde
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  • 2.  RE: Return to the office - Another take on authenticity , environment and WFH

    Posted 08-03-2021 14:54

    @Colette Martin-Wilde - this was such a great read! I found myself, "huh!!"-ing aloud at multiple spots. First, I love the comparison between working from home and a sports team having "home field advantage." That's something I've not thought of, but definitely will think on some more. What kinds of things can we do to make work ("away field") feel more like home field advantage? (I'm thinking in particular about having some hometown fans in the crowd even when you're traveling, for instance).

    I also ​really liked this: 

    The overnight switch to working from home, though, has prompted some to look more closely at how the office influences self-expression-and the impact that feeling safe to be one's full self has on innovation, collaboration, and productivity. Research has shown that when people feel comfortable to be authentic and believe that their uniqueness is valued, they are more loyal, seeing the organization's interests as their own. "When our brains don't have to waste energy on whether or not we feel safe or accepted, all of that brain space and energy can be used for more productive pursuits," says Pitagora.

    It makes sense, totally. When we don't have to spend a lot of brain power and energy on "who we should be at work" and can focus all of that on the tasks at hand, it makes a huge difference in productivity and creativity. 

    I think about this piece of advice a lot: 

    Experts advise that firms work to build a culture without imposing strict protocols around how employees should look, act, or sound. Emphasizing results over established professional norms allows for greater freedom and self-expression.

    If we're trying to build an inclusive, diverse organization, shouldn't we model that within our work environment? Am I suggesting that we all roll into work in our jammies? No. But I do think there's a world where we can do a better job encouraging individuality and self-expression.

    A few thoughts in response to your questions:

    • Yes I absolutely think that working from home has allowed me to be more myself. Its been easier to stick with an exercise routine and relatively good eating habits (just don't ask @Maria Liccardo if she agrees on that last bit). I don't use backgrounds on Zoom or otherwise because I like people seeing my space (that said, I also don't judge when others do - because their choice also shows something about their personalities, right?)  
    • I'd like the dress code to be different. Business casual is... fine. And there are days that I really like to dress up. But I also think it's absolutely acceptable to wear casual clothes to the office. Work still gets done, and you're comfortable. Or maybe you're comfortable in a suit and you want to wear one - good on you.
    I'm trying to remind myself to take things slowly and allow for a lot of flexibility throughout the process. There's no way we'll be able to just "flip a switch" and go back to the way things were (though I think some will try). This last year+ has made us think creatively about how we get stuff done, and what I'd love more than anything is to keep that attitude along for the ride as we transition back to the office. 


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    Stay awesome,
    Quinn
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  • 3.  RE: Return to the office - Another take on authenticity , environment and WFH

    Posted 08-04-2021 14:44
    @Colette Martin-Wilde this is such an interesting article. It made me realize a few things:

    1. I am privileged enough to have been able to express myself at the office pre-pandemic and have never had to present a "work-version" of myself. This article has opened my eyes to those who may not have had the same benefits - something that will always be on my mind now. 

    2. I have had somewhat of the opposite experience working from home. As I mentioned above, I feel like I've always been able to be myself at work so that hasn't changed, but I now work from home in my bedroom - it feels awkward. I spend 90% of my time in one room. Also, my bedroom is a pretty personal space, almost too personal for my comfort to be sharing with my colleagues. It's not obvious to people on Zoom calls where I am sitting, but it's always in the back of my mind - an uneasiness. My interaction and movement has severely declined and I miss walking to the printer to grab something and bumping into a colleague. I can see how if you have a designated work space how you could really flourish at home, but that hasn't been my experience. 

    3. I think the idea of being flexible and allowing people to work when and how they like to work is something that could be incorporated into office life. Providing options to work from a couch or near a window or outside on a nice day are ways to make the office feel less "corporate" and more comfortable. There are certainly more opportunities while working from home to take what I refer to as a "real" break so your mind can refocus. For example, it's been really nice to be able to prep dinner, take a shower, or do some gardening if I have 15 minutes between meetings. When I step away from my desk and do something productive (even if it's not work related) I am able to come back to my work with a renewed focus that actually helps me achieve more. I don't know how this concept could be applied in the office, but I'm open to ideas! Any thoughts?

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    Alison Randall
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  • 4.  RE: Return to the office - Another take on authenticity , environment and WFH

    Posted 08-09-2021 10:18
    Thanks @Colette Martin-Wilde for getting us all thinking about working from home vs. office and authenticity implications. It reminds me of an article I read recently, How do Gen-Z, Millennials feel about returning to full-time office work?

    According to this survey, the vast majority of young professionals do not want to return to the office full time. Period. In fact, "Nearly half of Gen Z (45%) and millennial (47%) employees surveyed said they are willing to give up 10% or more of their future earnings in exchange for the option to work virtually from almost anywhere." I would be curious to hear more about the reasons these young professionals want to work from home (or "anywhere"). Could authenticity be a big factor?

    This is fascinating to me, because I am (maybe one of the few?) looking forward to going back into the office several days a week. When I think about my first few jobs out of college, the people I worked with became my friend group, the people I partied with! If employers heed the wishes of this younger and upcoming part of the workforce (and they will need to in order to hire talented individuals), it could drastically change how young professionals socialize. I have visions of a sci-fi future where all social interactions take place virtually, ha!

    As always, I'm interested to hear what others think about this!

    Woman with virtual images circling her head


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    Maria Liccardo
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  • 5.  RE: Return to the office - Another take on authenticity , environment and WFH

    Posted 08-09-2021 10:59
    Fascinating! I'm looking forward to a few days in the office, too. I really miss the casual interactions with people both inside and outside my team that make me feel connected to the whole organization and I am 100% behind WFH because it is efficient. I don't think in-person experience will ever go the way of sci-fi dystopias (I hope not!) because humans have some fundamental DNA-based social needs. 

    @Maria Liccardo I'm really glad you brought this up. For the first time the powers that be are being forced to reckon with the needs and wants of their employees at all levels where they have never done so before.  You either fit company rules or you don't.  I read this article just this morning from McKinsey and it addresses return to work challenges at the executive and management levels:

    It's time for leaders to get real about hybrid

    This particular paragraph struck me as important:

    "Don't just repeat what the workforce says explicitly, empathize with what they are trying to convey implicitly

    Many organizations today are playing back select results of employee surveys to their workforces, partly to justify their choices about a physical return to the office. This is fine, but it fails to signal that the organization understands and appreciates the altered post-pandemic relationship between employees and employers. Meeting employees where they are means signaling awareness that there is a deeper undercurrent of beliefs that will take time to surface and understand, accompanied by a clear commitment that the organization will continue to listen for, process, and act on those signals. (emphasis is mine).

    Like you, I'm wondering where Millennials (born 1981-1996 ) reading these posts would weigh in on these points. 

    Happy Monday everyone.



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    CMW
    Colette Martin-Wilde
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  • 6.  RE: Return to the office - Another take on authenticity , environment and WFH

    Posted 08-10-2021 10:31
    Edited by Mauricio Gonzales 08-10-2021 10:32

    Such an interesting conversation is happening on this thread!
    @Maria L, I did a quick Google search, and according to my findings, the most significant concerns about returning to the office are:

    • Control over their time
    • No commute
    • Change in daily routine
    • Cost savings
    • Being away from family or pets
    • Childcare or caregiver responsibilities
    • Office politics and distractions

    Other findings... 🚬

    • They feel their employer does not care about their well-being. 
    • They want to hear from their manager as little as possible.
    • "They feel like we're not working if they can't see us," she said. "It's a boomer power-play."
    • "I can just do whatever I want around the house, like a quick chore didn't have to wait until like 8 p.m. anymore, or I can go for a quick walk."
    • "Working inside of a building really does restrict time a lot more than you think," he said. "A lot of people are afraid of the cycle where you work and work and work -- and then you die."
    @Colette Martin-Wilde, thanks for sharing such a great read!

    Sources: 

    • https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-06-01/return-to-office-employees-are-quitting-instead-of-giving-up-work-from-home
    • https://www.outkick.com/back-to-the-office-some-employees-would-rather-quit/
    • https://www.benefitnews.com/news/employees-are-going-to-quit-if-forced-to-return-to-the-office
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    Mauricio Gonzales
    Content Marketing & Branding Specialist at GOOD DESIGN™
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  • 7.  RE: Return to the office - Another take on authenticity , environment and WFH

    Posted 08-10-2021 16:31
    Thanks for these insights, @Mauricio Gonzales! These are all good reasons to continue working virtually, and I have benefitted from many of them during the pandemic work-from-home. There's something about the in-person interactions that appeal to me, though. For example, last week my husband went to a co-worker's retirement party. This was someone he used to work with a few years ago. They weren't great friends, but it was someone he enjoyed working with. If he had only met that person virtually, I'm not so sure they would have gotten to know each other well enough to celebrate his retirement! I guess it could happen, but the in-person career connections seem to have a little more depth to them.

    I'd love to hear more from any Millennials or Gen Z'ers out there!

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    Maria Liccardo
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  • 8.  RE: Return to the office - Another take on authenticity , environment and WFH

    Posted 08-16-2021 15:33
    Edited by Lindsay Griswold 08-18-2021 15:32
    @Maria Liccardo and @Colette Martin-Wilde, perspective from an "old" Millennial - 1984. (Remember, Millennials range from ages 25-40 at this point, that's quite a span in life experiences!)

    I have been working from home for almost six years with Rotary, so have seen it from both sides of the pandemic. I can honestly say I have created and maintained relationships with colleagues when I was the only one working virtually (miss my work wife, @Carissa Coons, who I have met in-person less than 10 times!), and then again when everyone joined me back in March 2020. It has been really interesting to see the difference between the "before" and "after." I have definitely felt closer to my team during the pandemic, because we were essentially all on the same playing field. I never felt purposefully left out before, but there are things you just miss from hearing the side convos in the cubes, elevator/break room chatter, walking to/from meetings. It's hard to build camaraderie that way. 

    Now that everyone is virtual, I feel like I don't miss out on much. I will say that you do have to put yourself out there and take risks more, which can be make you feel vulnerable. Will they like the GIF I send? What if I use the "wrong" emoji? Will I be judged on my spelling mistakes? Will they think I'm a dummy if I still don't know how to use the mute button after 18 months? It's sort of like a non-romantic version of online dating. (That being said, I did meet my spouse of seven years through OKCupid - before all the swipe left/right nonsense, I might add! - so I guess this is my jam. 😊)

    I was once attending a webinar and the speaker shared that while she brings her authentic self to work, she does not bring her whole self. I think there's a marked distinction there. And, I agree with @Alison Randall - I also acknowledge my immense privilege in that I have always felt comfortable bringing my authentic self to work. But even so, I typically do not bring my whole self. There are some things that not everyone at the office needs to know about my life, even though I'm generally an open book and not ashamed about any part of my past, present, or future self. It is one of the reason why I am not connected on social (outside of LinkedIn, of course) with anyone who is a current colleague.​​

    I wonder, like @Quinn Drew, if we can keep this same attitude going when we return to the office? I think that will be a whole new transition and phase that we'll have to navigate together. ​

    ETA: I recently watched this mini (4 minutes) TED Talk about why you should bringing your whole self to work. Great message here. Featuring Dan Clay/Carrie Dragshaw. Why you should bring your whole self to work | The Way We Work, a TED series

    And, I think my separation of personal/professional life comes from my propensity as a Millennial to achieve a work/life balance. I can't speak for my Gen Z colleagues, but I have read many times they prefer a work/life blend. Would love a Gen Z to chime in!


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    Lindsay Griswold
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