We have started to open up the office so our team can get back to working together in-person. And talking to our clients, many are doing the same. And having the same issues!

Some are eager to come back and work together again. Others have settled into the WFH routine. Others are hoping for a mix of the two. All feel like it will take a little time to reconnect and re-learn how to collaborate in-person effectively.

However your team members view the migration back to the office environment, you can help with these 3 teamwork Tips for Being Back in the Office.

We discovered several things to do and found these ones effective at helping reconnect staff, optimise people’s productivity, boost their wellbeing and keeping motivation high through the transition back to the office) and thought we’d share them with you.

Hope you find them helpful too.

Practical tips to maximise the impact of your team members on the business:

1.) Ensure face-to-face meetings are as productive as possible with simple preparation.

Many companies are eager for the return of face-to-face meetings as they are more productive and focused. Facial expressions, body language and human interactions helps with clearer communication. We always find that better solutions are found and decisions made when in the same room together.

Here’s how to get the most out of your meetings:

  • 👩🏽‍🏫 Create a clear agenda in advance to give your meeting direction and value for staff travelling to the office. It will ensure focus on what is important and reduce distraction and digression. It will also help people prepare and manage their expectations. Meetings without a clear agenda will run over time and/or will fall short of achieving your key objectives.
  • 🔟 It’s okay to have a 10min meeting. Just because your online calendar is split into 30min chunks, doesn’t mean you have to fill the time. If you need to agree on a single decision, then have a meeting about just that one point. Get it done and then you can all crack on with the to-do list.
  • 💻 Proactively involve team members who are working remotely. Just because one person might not be in the office, their ideas and questions are no less valid. Encourage their contribution by engaging them in the conversations and try to avoid jokes and humour that only works for people in the room.
  • 📵 Ditch the distractions! Make your meeting space an email and phone free zone. This will remove the distractions and allow people to be present in the moment, which will deliver better end decisions.

2.) Spark creativity with spontaneous discussions and brainstorming sessions.

“Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions.” – Steve Jobs, American business magnate and co-founder of Apple

  • ⏲️ Make the most of the hours you have together. Bounce ideas off each other to problem-solve and innovate ideas. Foster a non-judgmental environment where team members feel comfortable voicing all their ideas, however far-fetched. You can even use Edward De Bono’s 6 thinking hats method to making meetings more productive. [link to our webpage about this]
  • 🗒️Create a brainwriting board. This is where anyone can jot as many ideas as they wish down on a sticky note and pin it to the board to discuss later more in detail. A virtual brainwriting board should be accessible to all your team members and helps you capture those great ideas that if not written down there and then, will be forgotten. Here’s one you can download from Miro.
  •  💭 Designate time for problem-solving. Before meeting at the office, itemise the areas you wish to spend time problem solving in person. Doing it in person is much more fruitful then from behind the screen. 

3.) Motivate your team and boost morale 

Team morale can plummet when people work remotely extensively. Many companies use virtual team building activities to elevate spirits and build strong connections whilst apart (bringing in the experts to deliver a professional experience). But there are many other things you can do in a more low key way. So when your team is back in the office, whether permanently or even for just a day, here are three ways to help you plan time to reconnect, re-engage and re-motivate the troops.

  • 😄 Make time to talk about things other than work! Having a genuine interest in your colleagues lives outside work will help you bond. Also, you never know what you might learn that you’ll find useful in your own life! Working virtually makes cross-desk banter almost non-existent so allow your team time to reconnect with each other organically.
  • 👥 Schedule 1-2-1 meetings. When is the last time you checked in with colleagues? With a busy to-do list, it’s easily forgotten. Some staff members may have wellbeing worries they’d like to discuss or just be grateful for the show of care, so do make the time. And it’s also an opportunity to gain a little feedback on your own management style, to help make you a better boss.
  • 🥇 Use a fun shared experience to help your team gain confidence in being together in-person again. It takes the pressure off ‘networking chat’ by giving a non-work related focus. Although many employees are eager to work together again, it takes time to reconnect and relearn how to collaborate effectively in person. Fun,  shared experiences help this process. Do remember that developing team culture doesn’t happen overnight and won’t be solved with a single intervention. A series of activities over an extended time period will give people something to look forward to as part of the perks of working for your company. This will help maintain morale, engagement and encourage your team to return to the office with enthusiasm and more confidence.

Written by Ben Parkinson

Published on 21 October, 2021

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