Published on Nov 26, 2021
Anecdotal evidence is emerging of what is an unintended consequence of working from home.
Yes, folk are certainly enjoying the fact that they aren’t spending valuable time commuting and they seem to enjoy being able to move effortlessly from breakfast to desk in a few strides.
However, not going into the office means not having the chance to interact with colleagues/clients in face-to-face settings, missing out on water-cooler moments, not being able to try somewhere new for lunch and not grabbing a drink after work with mates and having a laugh.
In view of these and other obvious drawbacks, what do you think is the major realisation that has hit some people whilst working, monastically, from home?
You might think that they’d say they’ve discovered how to have a better work life balance, but, no, what has dawned on many people is that – without all the jazz of office life – it has become clear to them that their job is actually a very boring one.
This is a problem not only for individuals, but it should also be of major concern to their employers.
It will affect the contribution made to the business and there will be those who decide to exit what they now see to be a dull, dead-ends-ville existence.
The danger of having demoralised and de-motivated employees is all to obvious. Faced with the problem, what can employers do?
I haven’t got the space here to offer a comprehensive blueprint, but here are some random thoughts.
First, managers need to recognise that it is an issue and to begin to work out ways to pep up the levels of enthusiasm that all members of the team feel towards the company and their roles within it. I’m not just talking about the basic ways of engaging with remote workers through regular and interesting communication, nor of snazzy ways of encouraging contact with colleagues online (or in person) although all of that is, of course, relevant. I’ll leave it to you to come up with suitable packages to encourage better social interaction.
No, I’m talking about making sure individuals know, not only that you care about what they can give to the business, but that you are prepared to contribute to their personal development and thereby increase their feeling of self-worth and self-fulfilment.
As an employer you must work with them to help them get re-energised by making them more knowledgeable about the industry they work in and how best they can enhance their skills to be successful in it.
You’ll have your own thoughts on how to ensure key people don’t lose their mojo, but you should aim to agree a personal development plan for each member of your team. This will include relevant training (there are numerous online courses and yes, I know I would say that!!!) because this will show them that you are with them for the long term. Businesses have a vested interest in doing this.
A personal development plan doesn’t have to be all formal training. Be creative about this. Find out about your people and what makes them tick, so that you can harness their natural talents and interests for mutual benefit. Think too about some mentoring and coaching (internal and external) and don’t forget that there are numerous great audio books that can help to pep up an individual’s thinking – see suggestion below* – as well as stimulating online lectures like the TED Talks.
Employers should help all staff to grow as individuals and take every step they can to assist employees to acquire new skills that will make them more effective at work and in their personal life.
And less bored with their job!
Neil Thomas, November 2021
* An absolute belter of an audio book – available through Apple – is Rory Sutherland’s Alchemy: The Magic of Original Thinking in a World of Mind-Numbing Conformity. I can’t recommend this highly enough as an inspirational way to pep up your thinking about business (and life!). He has also given a few of the best TED Talks that I’ve heard.
Published on Nov 26, 2021 by Neil Thomas