Blog

What if your team members don’t want to return to the office?

4 juli 2022

A case study at DPG Media

(estimated reading time: 4,5 minutes

Helping your team members want to come to the office in a post-lockdown hybrid working model can be challenging. How do you keep your team motivated and how do you (re)strengthen their link with the company? How do you help your team members overcome the many mental obstacles preventing them from wanting them to come back?

We are so happy that iLean was able to assist DPG Media tackle this challenge within some of their squads. We are grateful that we were involved in their ongoing transition from a full working from home model to a hybrid model with 2 days in the office, with 1 fixed team day and 1 day to be chosen freely.

Finding the balance

Many organizations, coaches, scrum masters, … are struggling to find the perfect balance between team members working from home and physically working together in the office.

Team members are working from home ‘to get more tasks done’, there is often no clear idea of who will come to the office when, there are no clear agreements, the link with the company is fading, …

At DPG Media they wanted to increase the number of days in the office from 1 to 2, a decision that was met with quite some resistance. It was difficult for the teams to see the advantages, they were experiencing quite some practical obstacles (‘I am much more efficient working from home’) and the process did bring its challenges.

How could DPG media motivate its team members to really want to come to the office? How could they boost the motivation for this hybrid working model, get the most out of the office days and boost the link with the company?

Start with why

Together with DPG Media we went back to the basic question: why do we want to work together in the office? What are the advantages and what’s in it for all parties involved?

Make your team members feel the advantages of physically working together. Yes, they might feel that they are more efficient working from home, getting more tasks done. But working in the office will bring a different kind of efficiency. And it is incredibly important for team members to realize these advantages by experiencing them.

The impact of informal meeting moments at the coffee machine, contact across teams and areas, getting to know newer colleagues for the first time in real life, … is invaluable and will tremendously boost efficiency.

For example, the threshold to have a quick discussion with someone in real life is much lower than booking an online meeting for that topic, especially with colleagues you don’t work with on a daily basis.

The role of coaches is to make team members want to come to the office because they really see the advantages, not because they want to show that they are present to tick a checkbox.

Some concrete examples of how DPG Media boosts motivation for office work:

  • They decided to step away from online retro’s and actually sit together every 4 weeks in real life retro’s
  • they stimulate team members to regularly go on team lunches, informal coffee breaks, sit together for a quick chat in a booth, … to maximize the impact of their presence in the office and get the most out of those important informal moments

Clear communication about the presence in the office

At DPG Media it was clear that the communication on office work could use some improvement. It was not clear who was coming to the office when.

Setting a fixed day per week for the team to meet and introducing clear communication between team members made a huge difference. Team members synced to see who also planned to come to the office to get the most out of meetings between people from different teams for example.

So create team awareness, help them see the advantages and the success for the team of physically working together and stimulate the team dynamic.

Getting used to working together again

We need to get used to working together in the office again. Respect for each other, although obvious, is more important than ever. For example stepping out and going to a booth to make a call. Making agreements and following suit.

To make working together in the office again a real success, all team members need to take ownership. Agreements made need to be respected. But of course there needs to be room for flexibility and discussion when making those agreements.

Facilitate the collaboration with inspiring working environments

DPG Media wants to stimulate and focus on real collaboration and employee connection and is adapting its infrastructure to facilitate this to the fullest. They are creating work spaces that are a catalyst for teamwork and connection.

They are introducing hybrid working spaces, more connecting spaces for formal and informal contact, lounges where team members can have informal connections, photobooths, coffee corners every 2 floors to simulate employees to move around more and connect (informally) with a wider range of colleagues.

Work spaces to really connect and work together, to make those days in the office the best days of the week!

Conclusion

It’s not always easy to convince your team members that coming back to the office and working together is equally important for their efficiency. DPG Media was aware of the importance of a good hybrid working model to strengthen collaboration and employee connection. We are very grateful that we could take part in this process and that one of our consultants could bring in the Ilean mindset and background so that we were able to make a considerable impact together and keep on making an impact in this process that requires regular attention and is an ever ongoing exercise.