Present Ma’am – Office Attendance

The desire to go back to “the way things were” is understandable. But there is no going back. A lesson that keeps coming back to me in so many different ways. This week I was talking to the millennial board about being empathetic and effective leaders. The context in which board 2.0 comes into play is so very different from when the first board was constituted.

When the first board was in play we were getting used to the idea of WFH and grappling with many limitations and difficulties in figuring out this new way of working. Today we are trying to find ways to get back into offices and to the way, things used to be.

There is no one size fits all approach or answer to the question of – How do we get people back into workplaces? But I think it’s important to ask the right questions. For instance, the difference between – How do we get people back into the workplace 5 days a week? Vs how do we get our people connected, culturally aligned, and committed?

I have been reading a lot of different views on this topic. Being “present with purpose” was a wonderful phrase that resonated. People do not want to drive hours to sit in a cubicle and do zoom calls. People do miss the in-person engagement. There is also the role of serendipity to unlock the creativity that is so powerful. The unplanned meeting. The corridor conversation or the chat at the tea stall downstairs. Brainstorming meetings or even sometimes just good old-fashioned conflict resolution storming meetings. Group learning sessions and lunches in the cafeteria. The list is long and there is a longing for many of these moments.

I am sure we will collectively and individually find our way back into the workplace. The pace of adopting change will vary. The formula that works for one company will be different from another. The water will find its level. Each individual will also make choices about the kind of workplace that suit their needs. In this journey of getting back to the office, asking the right questions will be powerful. Framing the opportunity as getting the most out of work life completely changes the context. The purpose of getting everyone together will define the process. This is the compass that will help guide decisions in the right direction. Being present in the office with a clear and shared purpose with people who are aligned is a good space to aim for.

Otherwise, it will be like being back in the classroom. My roll number was called out… I replied “Present Ma’am” and then I mentally checked out of the class. In fact, during my college days many a time after attendance I physically checked out as well. The real present is presence. And presence comes from clarity of purpose and a desire to be there. There is no going back to the way things were, but if we ask the right questions, I am confident we will find our way forward. 

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Nikhil Dey
Nikhil Dey is Executive Director, Adfactors PR.

A trusted coaching and communications professional, Nikhil Dey is a certified life and leadership coach (International Coach Federation - ICF). Nurturing talent and helping clients achieve their goals is what makes him happy. He loves learning from students of communication, teaching courses and guest lecturing at various educational institutions. When he is not working you will find him on the tennis court or out for long walks with his family and four legged friends.

Previously he has held senior leadership positions at Weber Shandwick and Genesis BCW.

He can be reached on twitter @deydreaming

1 Comment on "Present Ma’am – Office Attendance"

  1. As always, a well balanced and well written article. We need more people like you Nikhil in the corporate world. The current setup, mostly is devoid of empathy and understanding, which are the two cornerstones. People are just running towards numbers and targets, ignoring the ones who make it possible…our fellow human beings and colleagues. And with this current trend of overnight sacking in the name of restructuring, its not setting the right examples.

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