Face-to-Face 101

Apr 6, 2023

I came across a new piece of research by Korn Ferry recently that confirmed my suspicions about our professional lives: We are beginning to return to our pre-pandemic habits and routines en masse.

But, as the Korn Ferry article notes, there’s a major problem. After three years of mostly virtual work and online-only interactions, we are collectively out of practice when it comes to face-to-face contact. Whether. it’s networking or business travel or building corporate culture, we’re rusty.

As one staffing executive told Korn Ferry: “It’s as if we were in jail, and now we’re all free again.”

Apparently this is causing an intense return to networking, as people are desperate for in-person meetings and connections. But—and this should come as no surprise—simply sending out a flurry of LinkedIn invitations or handing out your business card to every person who passes your table at a conference isn’t doing you any favors.

Rather, you need to work to truly connect with the people you’re trying to build a relationship with. Experts told Korn Ferry that many of the conversations they’re having around jobs are now more open, frank, and vulnerable post-pandemic. I can tell you from personal experience that this results in deeper, more meaningful relationships and better cultural fits between employee and employer. I’m sure you’ve had a similar experience.

Rebuilding our work environments also takes time and concerted effort. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was your company culture.

Korn Ferry and Work Forum noted that to improve office satisfaction, we should be removing any barriers or implied classifications among our workers. It shouldn’t matter whether you’re in the office or working remotely: You’re treated the same and have access to the same opportunities.

Your company messaging should capture your company values and be consistent from your initial recruiting efforts through to employment and beyond, although the mediums through which you reach your people should adapt to meet them where they are. For example, you can communicate transparency for those in the office by adopting an open floor plan and open-door policy, while regular Zoom check-ins and online availability can do the same for remote workers.

Of course, none of it is possible without modeling of the desired behaviors and attitudes by company leadership. In other words, our leaders must “walk the walk” to authenticate our corporate cultures.

Ultimately, the Korn Ferry report highlight to me how ready we are to embrace the new hybrid workplace. How are you doing that in your company? What lessons have you learned?

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