00:08 Hi, I'm Denise Simpson, a master life and leadership coach who helps women step into their authentic and feminine power. So they can lead like visionaries influence with grace and create a legacy of contribution and service. You'll hear about real leadership clients with real problems, navigating their success in life, business, and career. If you're ready to become a masterful leader, then this podcast was made for you. So let's get
00:47 Welcome back leader. Let's talk about returning to the office. So where are you right now? Where are you listening to this episode? Are you in the office right now? Or are you driving to work right now? Or are you driving from work back to your home? Where are you as you're listening to this episode, perhaps you're at home, maybe a virtual break, perhaps you're having your lunch between meetings. Perhaps you are taking a nature walk because you live right next door to a park. And so you're able to do that while you're working virtually from home. Where are you right now in this return to office conversation? And the reason why I'm having this conversation with you today is because many of my clients are working through hybrid models right now. So here's, what's interesting. Many of my clients had virtual work. They had virtual offices.
01:47 So that was never our problem with their employees. They worked from home. So they had clear guidelines. They had clear policies that determined how many hours you would work, whether you would have core hours or not. And a lot of these organizations did not have core hours, core hours, like eight to five, nine to six with one hour lunch break, right? The core hours was determined by the employee, the individual. So someone who wasn't an, an early riser works from like 12:00 PM to maybe about eight or nine, and with lots of breaks in between. And they have their core hours that they've set for themselves. So the autonomy has always been there. So when COVID happened, these organizations were set, everything was clear. Performance was not Budd, unless someone did get sick and needed to take a few weeks off. But other than that, everything was status quo, right?
02:50 Performance was, was not faltered. Culture was still very strong. Connection was still very strong between peers and team members. And so I have one part of my business where some clients had that wonderful opportunity to just ride the wave of COVID. While I had other clients who had to transition everybody back to their homes and that created quite an interesting culture shift. It was a shift in values. It was a shift in habits. New habits needed to be created not only for the individual employee, but for the team, for the group, what habits did they need to come up with to maintain good performance status? And so it's, it's interesting to see these two parts of my, my clientele. One that was very familiar with work from home. So wasn't phase during COVID, while another set were very, very, um, troubled by that, that, that time.
03:55 But what's interesting now, fast forward to today right today, and we're looking at July of 2022, where organizations are fully running, the lights are back on . You know, the, the AC is kicking. Everybody is mandated to go back into the organization. Well, some organizations, however, have realized that flexibility during COVID was actually a benefit to their employees, the feeling of autonomy, where the employee had autonomy, as in, as in, they had the autonomy to choose what hours they would work, what, what their performance would look like, what connect, what connection look like for them. The autonomy for an employee is so important. And we find that the research shows that employees want autonomy. And that the reason why they're not coming back to work is because of that factor. Organizations are not flexible. They're too rigid for them. But what COVID has done has provided this opening for organizations to, to really reevaluate what is important to their people.
05:13 And so this is an important conversation to have, if you are in a position of, of deciding whether to do a hybrid model. Fantastic. And if you're someone who is not in that position to make that decision where you are mandated to be a hundred percent in the office, or the organization is now mandating a three by two hybrid or whatever hybrid model that they're they've created for you, this episode will serve you either way, whether you are the one making that decision or whether you are the one following that decision, that decision, if that makes sense. Okay. And so let's talk a little bit about what can suffer when you do have a hybrid model, or you have a hundred percent of your employees working from home. So what can suffer and what we saw during the pandemic was the suffering of the culture of the organization.
06:11 The culture was diminished, and the culture is really made up of the core values, the core competencies, the vision, and the mission and the objectives of the organization. You know, all those wonderful things that, that our organizations stand for, right? This is why we work in our, in our, in, in our places of employment, because we are committed. We have bought into that mission, to that social cause or whatever vision that they have for, for their, their customers and their employees and the impact they have on the world. So we choose employ employment or employees based on what is an alignment with us as individuals. And so here are these beautiful things that make up your culture in the organization. But while you have people at home, right, and concerned about their wellbeing and their health and their work life balance, the culture was diminished.
07:08 Priorities had shifted employees weren't were not concerned about the culture of the organization, because what was in front of them were sick children or children going to school, right. Virtually trying to keep up with their work and keep up with their own work. Right? So a parent was back and forth, you know, looking at reality, like really I'm supposed to care about my organization right now, I'm in survival mode. How do you expect for me to care about anything else when I can barely survive this pandemic? And so the culture was diminished and we lost a lot of momentum. We lost traction there because now we have to rehab our employees, retrain our employees, recondition them. And if this sounds really harsh, sure. I mean, it could be, I mean, it could be harsh for you, but this is the reality. People were so far removed from the organizational culture and the values of the organization that it's going to take some, some retraining.
08:12 That's all that is only because of the time and the priorities that, that really, that really took precedence for them during that time. So you, as a leader, we need to look at what has been diminished. Where's the gap. Where's the void. Are my employees still engaged and committed? Do they still feel heard? Do they have psychological safety here? Intellectual safety as well, are my employees back to where they were pre COVID pre pandemic? And if they're not, what can I do for them now while maintaining that work from home status or that hybrid status that you want to incorporate. So think about the culture. That's number one on my list is, think about what has been diminished. Think about the void. Yes. We're going into problem solving here. We're looking for a problem. That's what we're doing. We're looking for. Is there a problem with my employees committed to the culture of the organization?
09:16 Has there been a decrease, a decline, a diminishing of, and that's where you start solving for that problem? Okay. So the culture is number one, where has it diminished among your team members, among your employees? The next thing I want for you to look at is performance, same filter. We're looking for a problem here. Is there a performance issue? Was there a performance issue when they worked from home? Were some of your employees long gone as in, for hours? You didn't know if they were working because you didn't have the systems to monitor people from, from their, their computers at home. Right. I used to work for an online university and they tracked my every move. I felt like I was being monitored, but I, the exchange was that I would work from my home teaching university students. It was the best thing ever. I mean, they could monitor my phone calls.
10:19 They could monitor the time I was spending on my laptop. I didn't care. I was just so excited to be working from home and not having to drive through Austin traffic. I'm like, this is a dream. And so there's, there's exchanges there for our employees. Right. So if you do have that monitoring system, did you find any issues with performance? Did their performance lack? And if you're debating right now, should we go back home or should we create a hybrid model? Think about the performance today. What is lacking? What is, what is the problem in performance? Has there been a diminishing diminishment, excuse me, in performance. And so, and that's easy to see, right? Because we see their output. We get to see what projects they complete or not complete. We get to see if they're on time, right? The timelines are, are, are, are realistic for them.
11:17 And when they had a timeline that they would work from the office and they would meet it or exceed it. Right. And they're not doing that from home. What's the disconnect there. And so start looking at performance of your individual employees, because one employee may flourish among peers, connecting with others in a building, having that sense of connection, where they can pop into somebody's office and say, hello, I have a question about this specific project and they can brainstorm together, or they can go to lunch and brainstorm ideas. And so the creativity is sparked among humans, among people. So you may have one employee that flourishes in the office setting and from home, however, may not be as creative may not be as timely and performance may suffer. So I want for you to look at them individually. This is not a blanket style of leadership.
12:18 That's not who you are. And that's not what I profess here. What I want for you to do is care deeply about their wellbeing and deeply about them and what their voids are, what challenges do they have, but also leverage their strengths. And so you're gonna look at them individually in regards to performance, how is Tom doing versus Karen? How is Denise doing versus is John, right? So I want for you to look at them at an in individual level. And that's the second thing I want you to do again, number one was maintaining the culture, right? We're gonna look for any gaps or voids if culture has been diminished. And what can we do if you are going into a hybrid model or you are going into back into 100% virtual. And then the second thing I want you to do is look at performance.
13:09 Same thing. What voids do we have here? What opportunities do we have? What were our challenges? And what do we need to prepare for, if we do go into a hybrid model or we're going back into our homes 100% of the time, all right, let's move on to number three. So I want for you to look at the connection between you and your employees and your employees among each other. I want for you to consider connection as one of your strongest values as a team, without connection to one another there's friction. There is distrust. There is an opportunity for sabotage. There is an opportunity for gossip. There's an opportunity for even resentment. And so connection allows for us to understand each other, to actually see each other, to see each other for humans. because we are, this is about humanizing this experience with each other.
14:17 We don't have to be best friends. We don't have to go out after work every night. We don't have to get our families together. That's not what I'm talking about. Connection runs a little deeper than that. It's understanding that I may not understand why you do what you do and why you're here. but I, I deeply care that we pull this team together and that I help you in any way that I can so that we rise together as a team so that we P perform together as a team. And so it's, it's interesting because some people say, well, I, you know, I just don't like him, or I don't like her. She's just a bad human. I've heard somebody say that to me. I'm like, wow, that's a good one. Or she's just this. Or she's just that. And I understand that we're not here to, you know, become each other's godparents, right.
15:11 Or, or, you know, our godparents for each other's kids. I know that's such a silly example, but that's, that's kind of the extreme that some of you may think that, that I'm asking you to do. And that's not what I'm asking for you to do. I'm asking for you to find ways to create connection with your employees, but more importantly, for your employees to find connection with each other, that's important. And you can do this in many, many ways. You can do this with weekly. Check-ins a weekly meeting. You can ask your employees to talk about the best thing that happened to them, uh, over the weekend or the best thing that happened, happened to them. At the end of the week, you can, when you have your one on ones, ask your employees how they're doing, how are their families doing? Take a genuine interest in their life.
16:05 Again, I'm not asking for you to take them out for dinner or go have drinks with them. No, it's just about humanizing this relationship that you call leader and follower, and also the relationship between each of your followers, right? The connection is what's going to elevate the performance of the team. It's going to solidify their engagement and commitment to the organization. This will help them feel seen and heard and understood. It'll create a culture of psychological safety. It will highly motivate and inspire your individual employees to do more for themselves and their team because they feel that connection among each other. So connection. My friend is so important. We lost so much of it during the pandemic. We really did. We were disconnected from our work lives for some of us. It was great for some of us. We're like, thank you. Thank you. I get to be at home.
17:07 I now spend time with my children. I'm now seeing what they're doing in school. I'm taking a greater interest in their learning. I'm taking a greater interest in our health. So this was a blessing for some while for others, it was a complete disconnect where they disconnected from the world. They may not have had a family at home. So their only form of connection was going to work, going to the office, meeting their peers after work, socializing with them after work or socializing with other groups. Right? So, so disconnection was a very strong, strong emotion that drove a lot of our really interesting habits. Some of us turned to food and alcohol and other things to numb that feeling of disconnection to fill the void of disconnection, right. Or some who were forced to work from home were in some really unhealthy relationships. And during that pandemic, it was just, it was not safe for them to be there.
18:09 And so this emotion of disconnection comes from the thoughts that we have, of course, which causes the feeling of emotion. And the actions we take from that feeling of disconnection can be varied, right? It can, it can be varied for me. It was going into eating and going back into my emotional eating habits. And, and it was, it was caused by mostly worry and being stuck at home and not having that connection with my family, my extended family members, even my clients, you know, meeting them virtually was, was really heavy for me. Although I have about 90% of my clientele is virtual, but the 10% that I had here in Austin, I, I loved going into their buildings. I loved working with their teams. I loved everything about the connection I had with them and being forced, however, to not, to not leave our homes, right?
19:10 The, the, the, just the mandate of being home was a heavy burden for me. And for me, it caused so much disconnection within myself, within my body and among my peers and among my clients and among my family members. And so it's important that we look for ways to reconnect with our employees and start looking at what was diminished during that time, when they were at home working, what is it that they lacked? What, what, what are we challenged with now today? How do we reconnect with each other so that we can build each other up and so that we can work as a team? All right, my friend, those were three of my best practices for returning to the office or working through a hybrid model, right? Because some of you are 100% back in your offices while others right now are doing hybrid.
20:07 They had never done this before. They had never considered this until COVID. And now the hybrid model is something that's really important to, to them. And so either way, take a look at these three best practices, your culture, the team's performance, and the connection connection between you and them and each other. All right, my friend, I know you found these three best practices, so helpful. I know many of my clients have as well. And so let me know how this works out for you. I gave you some really strong strategies, really great things to think about and go, and now implement them in your leadership practice. All right, my friend have a fantastic week ahead and I'll catch you on our next episode five for now.
21:00 Hey, if you enjoy listening to this podcast, you have to join me inside my exclusive coaching membership for women in leadership. Just like you. I wanna help you become a masterful leader with the help of a community of the most powerful women on this planet. My membership is called masters of leadership. Yes, of course it would be called that . So whether you're a novice or a master, you have to join us. You're gonna get the support that you need and deserve inside my membership. So head over to Dr. Denise simpson.com/m O L. That website again is Dr. Denise simpson.com/m O L. You deserve this, my friend. So join us inside. See you soon.