A Winning Approach to the “Back to the Office” Dilemma: Promote Structure AND Flexibility

As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, not a day goes by where I’m not hearing examples of unhealthy tension between structure and flexibility, specifically when it comes to remote vs. in-person team strategies. Through experiencing the downsides of overdone flexibility, some leaders are taking the approach of forcing their teams back to the office with a 100% return to “the way it was.” And without fail, they’re finding themselves shocked and frustrated by the amount of resistance and resentment they’re facing from their teams.

Other leaders are simply (and naively) accepting the fact that remote work and Zoom-based relationships are the new reality and are putting no structures in place that require people to connect and work in-person. Sadly, they’re finding their alignment, collaboration, and morale beginning to tank within their teams.

The leaders that are tapping into an amazing competitive advantage right now are the ones that refuse to take an either/or approach, and instead, are embracing both structure and flexibility in their back-to-work strategy. They know that having certain structures and expectations around working together, in-person, will result in increased collaboration and team morale. They are also leveraging many of the amazing strategies and technologies we acquired during the pandemic that allow us to effectively collaborate in a remote and flexible way. And as a result, their teams are more productive and positive than ever. They’ve realized that promoting structure and flexibility is the wining approach to experience next-level teamwork.

Reflect on this past season. Is your team experiencing all the benefits that come from having a high level of structure? At the same time, are you adaptable enough to tap into the benefits that come from a high level of flexibility?

Take a look at the following graphic and assess which of the four quadrants your team is currently spending the most time in.

Structure AND flexibility

Regardless of what quadrant you currently find yourself in, the goal moving forward is to spend more time in quadrant four.

By refusing to take an either/or perspective to the back to work dilemma, but instead, embrace both structure andflexibly, you’ll gain a winning approach that achieve higher productivity AND collaboration – the best of both worlds.

Tim Arnold

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