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Re-Connect: our belief

At around February this year, we began to feel it. Soon the time will come when we can go back to the office. Will everything be back to the way it was in no time? Or will it be really different? And how different? Either way, it will take some getting used to. And to get straight to the point: we at GroupMapping have given this some serious thought. To help with this, we've put our thoughts into a guide that can help you think deeper about how to reconnect people, after all this. If you can't wait, download the guide here.


With the Netherlands slowly opening up and easing up, the economy is getting a reboot. Despite the current discussion about tightening the reins again, the signs are abundantly clear; in some organizations, the recruitment machine is already running at full speed. Others are already filling order books for next year. Although the signs are good, the prospects are still uncertain, and a fourth wave is considered "unlikely". Although...

How have we fared over the past year and a half? We've learned what it's like to work remotely, and we've gained new colleagues we only met online. Some plans have been put "on hold", others stopped entirely. For a long time, work was completely intertwined with "home" - whether it was children who needed attention, a partner who was also working from home, people nearby who needed care and attention, or simply working in an unsuitable space, with neighbors who were remodeling...

Many people drifted away from each other in that time anyhow - having coffee together behind a screen is genuinely different than in real life. Despite all the initiatives to do nice things online, it doesn't make it to "the real thing". People want to meet again and especially to experience each other.


Organizations are making plans to get together again, re-evaluate - adjust - develop strategies, pick up change programs and projects, give new attention to innovations, and develop new products and services. Large groups will have to be involved in this, but how? Hybrid working is the title often used for this. That is quite a challenge!


The past few months have already seen a lot of focus on the "how": how are we going to work hybrid, what procedures, rules, tools, techniques are we going to use for that? How will we divide the time at the office among our people? In itself, this focus on the "how" question is not a bad thing at all. As long as you first pay attention to the "why". Even if you have already figured out the "how," it's good to give people a chance to understand and feel the 'why' behind that. Also, reflecting on the why may also help you further hone the how. In any case, we will soon be facing a moment that really matters, that you can't just let pass. For some organizations, that moment is very close. For others, it may not come until early 2022.

This "next phase" has very different characteristics than we have known before March 2020. We are now exiting a period in which fear of an unknown threat became fear of a known threat. Certainties and uncertainties have rapidly alternated - and continue to do so. Our freedom has been curtailed - for some with compelling reasons; for others, it felt imposed. We have all experienced this in different ways, with different effects. Some thrived under that almost inexhaustible time to be really focused at work. "Our people's productivity really flew through the roof," I've heard people say. Others broke down piece by piece. "Absenteeism is unprecedentedly high, mainly due to mental strain," I picked up in another conversation. In addition, all the uncertainties triggered all sorts of different beliefs, sometimes even causing people to be opposed to each other.


PwC did research on the effects of working from home in the late 2020s, with some shocking results: the effects of less collaboration, less commitment to the organization, and isolation and stress can cost an organization big time in the long run (they're talking millions...seriously...). But also TNO, Erasmus University, HR networks (e.g., HR Practice), and in particular also Deloitte from their Human Capital point of view (see for example for an overview) have dived into it and provided solid insights. The danger of isolation, lack of creativity, loss of commitment, disrupted private work-life ... these are not insights that necessarily cause for celebration.


All these insights and signals clearly show, as far as I am concerned, that we have something to do. Simply continuing, based on the "fantastic technological developments" still in the pipeline, is not an option. That would be ignoring how people have experienced the past period of over a year, what they want and don't want, and especially how they can regain influence in how the work should be done. I write this, of course, based on the conviction that if you give people the chance to influence their way of working, based on the purpose of that work, it will be better for all concerned. For that to happen, time is needed. Not so many hours-days-weeks-months, but precisely time with each other, to share with each other, as people, how we experienced it. We sincerely listen to each other, stay away from (pre)judgments and look forward together. In order to determine together how we want and need to do things from now on.


We call this the Re-Connect. That moment when you bring people together and give them the chance to determine together how they want to do things from that moment on. A high-quality moment - whether it's 3 hours or 3 days. High quality to put everything in place to let them have the actual conversation. With inspiration, in an environment that stimulates dialogue, with attention. Attention to the inner man too, by the way. And make no mistake, it seems like a side sentence now, but the moment you seize the opportunity to also give your people full attention in top space, with top food and drink, it will more than pay off later. Recognition for the moment, recognition for the journey that everyone has made in recent months, recognition for each individual, recognition for the group; that is essential now. Prepare yourself!


We are happy to help you with this. And if you haven't already downloaded the guide at the beginning of this epistle: the guide is meant to get you started. It is filled with essential insights and practical tips. You download it here. If you have read it and want to do something with it - however small that something may be: call! Or send an email. We are passionate about this and would love to help you out.

Ask us anything!