If you keep up with the news, you’ve probably read about The Great Resignation. It refers to the mass exodus of people from their companies during the pandemic, looking for better opportunities. It’s putting employee engagement and retention top-of-mind for leaders and business owners.
But recently, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said at a conference that the company was gearing up for “The Great Reconnection.”
As we move into a post-pandemic era, Johnson believes that in-person connection will flourish—people are longing for human connection. It’s why people are joining coworking spaces, working from their local coffee shop, and rushing to events and activities as restrictions are lifted.
So what does The Great Reconnection mean for employees and businesses? It’s about rebuilding the workplace into something that benefits everyone, and business owners and leaders need to pay attention.
The Great Reconnection: Why We Need It
We can say it ‘til we’re blue in the face: the pandemic changed everything. As the dust settles after this massive shake-up, we’re going to have to redefine what work looks like. And a huge part of it will be reconnecting with one another.
Humans are social creatures—some are more and less so than others, but we all need connection. The workplace has a huge social and interpersonal aspect to it. Just consider all the ways we interact throughout our work:
- HR processes like interviews, hiring, and training.
- Collaborating on projects and tasks.
- Informal socialization and conversation.
- Networking and professional development.
- Building and leading teams.
Reconnection won’t work by “getting back to normal.” Things have changed too much. Instead, leaders and business owners need to look at the changing landscape, consider employee needs, and intentionally foster connection in the workplace.
How to Connect 101
You’ll have to talk to Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson to get his take on it, but we don’t think The Great Reconnection will just happen. It’s going to take some work. But the human element is a critical factor and competitive advantage of any business—and that’s why it’s worth working at.
Team leaders and small business owners need to be intentional about what work will look like in the post-pandemic era. Here’s how.
1. Choose the right environment
To bring personal connection back to the workplace, the work environment itself is important. Coworking spaces are built to be flexible and meet your team’s needs. Consider these different options:
- Private offices and team suites are private and secure. You can meet regularly with team members and have a dedicated space to connect and work together.
- Coworking options, like flexible and dedicated desks, allow you to work alongside other like-minded professionals.
- Bookable meeting rooms allow remote and hybrid teams to come together in person.
Not every space will work for every team. But the beauty of coworking spaces is that they are flexible. You don’t need to lock into a long-term contract but can choose the option that fits your needs and change when you need to.
2. Create opportunities for connection
For employees and teams to reconnect with each other, leaders need to create opportunities to do so. Here are some ideas:
- Host or attend networking events.
- Plan a team lunch or happy hour to connect socially.
- Offer professional development, training, or skill workshops.
- Implement fun and creative team appreciation ideas.
The benefits of bringing people together outside of daily work are increased connection, engaged employees, and a stronger sense of belonging.
3. Gather feedback from employees
The post-pandemic workplace is like navigating uncharted waters—none of us have been here before. Try to include your employees or team in decision-making by getting their feedback.
Questions to ask your employees:
- What kind of work arrangement do you want? WFH, in-office, coworking space, a mix of everything?
- Do you have ideas for activities, events, or workshops that we could host?
- Is leadership supporting your professional or personal goals? What could we do differently?
This feedback is valuable data about what’s working and what’s not.
4. Think outside the box
If there’s a silver lining to the pandemic, it’s that we now have options for work. Working from home is normal, employees can work remotely, and flexible schedules are common.
So, continue to think outside of the box. For example, you can have a small office space for your business or team and embrace shift work. People can rotate in and out of the office, balancing WFH and in-person team collaboration.
There are even more creative options to consider—maybe your business is ready to set up a satellite office. Or, you want to try out a 4-day workweek! Whatever direction you go as a leader or small business, try something new and be willing to mix things up.
5. Get comfortable with change
The last piece of this all is to get comfortable with change. We’ve become pretty good at it over the last few years and need to keep it up.
Things will inevitably change and shift as we navigate the post-pandemic workplace. That’s why being open, creative, and adaptable is a good place to start. The Great Reconnection will look different for different businesses and teams—start by intentionally looking for opportunities, choosing the right environment, and collaborating with your team.
Looking for a professional workspace to help you and your team do your best work? Book a tour of your local Launch Workplace today.