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  • Writer's pictureDavid George

Office Attendance: mandate, choose or guide?


Woman sitting at a desk using a laptop, working from home
Remote Working

Do you group all of your employees into one level of competency, experience, skills, productivity, outputs and pay?


No, I thought not. 


Each team member is a unique cocktail of all of the above, because, well, we're people, and we're all different. We have different life experiences that brings this unique richness to the team.


We're all different, and so is the make-up of every team. This is just one reason why instigating a "one size fits all" approach to stipulating how much time is spent in the office, and how much time is spent remote, is not likely to be the most successful approach.


On the other hand, giving complete freedom and autonomy may not be the utopian solution many suggest it to be; most people actually prefer some guide rails in life, and work is no exception.

Just like a good cocktail, the ingredients of work need to be finely balanced.


When an employee joins the company, their role is initially written in a job description; occasionally a role will have a play book, but as often as not, the role is learned by doing explicit tasks and activities with others.


But while they're doing these explicit tasks and activities, there's a whole bunch of implicit things happening too. Things that benefit the individual, team, company and client. These are not necessarily written down, vocalised, structured or measured, but when people are together in the same place they just happen organically, most of the time.


It's unreasonable for most employees to understand both their explicit and implicit contribution they make to their team, department, company and client, as if they haven't been written down, vocalised, structured or measured, only the most astute, impartial, and objective amongst them would be aware.

Before the remote evangelists call me out on this, (I've worked in remote/hybrid roles since 1995 and advised on it since 2003, so I know a bit about this!) of course these can take place in fully remote settings.... but they are SOOO much harder as they need to be identified, planned and structured. 


For many young companies starting out in the past four years this could be business as usual, but for older companies making the transition since the pandemic is hard, and quite frankly when you're busy, its a pain in the neck!


Back to autonomy; when employees self-select how much time they should come together, their decisions are usually based on activity, task or social preferences - and then quite often begrudgingly so, because of that wasteful commute! 


But they make these decisions without the knowledge of their implicit contributions they were making when spending time together - which are essential benefits for individuals, team, company and clients. 


We've identified five key areas of implicit benefits that most employees could overlook when self-selecting how much time they should spend coming together. But, as already described above, each individual and team are different, so a simple company wide mandate of "we'll spend X days in the office each week" is unlikely to suit most and, as has been proven over the past year or more, is not complied with, but instead brings resentment across employees.


How do we resolve office attendance?


The answer lies as much in the process, as it does in the outcome, a process that guides employees and managers to co-create an informed solution when it comes to office attendance.


Beyond collaboration, identifying how these five implicit benefits impacts each team, needs to be worked through and agreed, by the team.


Contact us for more information on the five benefits that need to be considered, and the process to follow to balance in-office and remote working, on a team by team basis.


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