Are you pondering on which arguments to bring to the table to convince your employees to come back to the office?

I’ve done the homework for you.

1. Variety is the spice of life So, yes, you love your partner. And how delighted were you to, for maybe the first time, in March 2020, have a real coffee break together, in the garden, at around 11 in the morning?

But let’s be honest here! After all those hours having to bear each other’s faces, and the annoyance at the other, who turns out to have a loud voice (but, argh! You had never noticed that before!), you can now step into that car with utter joy. And hey presto, you’re off to the office.

Variety is the spice of life

2. Go print it! Your son and daughter are busy with the finishing touch to their final theses. And they have really, truly had enough of it, of that small amateuristic little home printer: it suffers from paper jams every 5 sheets and the ink seems to evaporate while you print so you’re ever rushing to buy yet another expensive cartridge. The solution? Why, the office of course! With its corridors populated with professional printers diligently spitting out copies of printed matter night and day.

I’m telling you, go back to the office! Your children will thank you. 3. The company canteen Did you also make a list of good intentions during the lockdown? Were you going to eat healthier? Were you going to cook yourself? Did you end up purchasing a shelf-load of cookery books? Let me guess: Ottolenghi-style? Low-carb? Intermittent fasting? Keto?

Are you not sick of so much healthiness? One address! The company canteen! You don’t know how much you’ve missed it! Queuing up with that sad little tray in your hands. Just like school dinners. Letting yourself be seduced by – go on, be a devil – fries! Just one more time. The greasy sauce that is wacked onto your plate. The full-calorie food that makes you and your bloated stomach roll back to your desks at around half past 1. Yes! Loving every minute of it!

I told you… Why don’t we all just go back to the office?

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Updated: Mar 22


3 ideas from me.

2 quotes from others.

1 question for you.

This is the set structure of the newsletter of Atomic Habits author James Clear. This structure bestows the text with a funky rhythm. So I thought: why don’t I take on this format too, to inspire people.

So here we go.

3 ideas from me

Idea 1

rotten fish

'The importance of self-leadership and enhanced self-awareness of how we employ our time. Yes, really interesting, Isabel. But what I notice is that our managers are not great followers of these ideas. On the contrary, people at the highest level demand we all go back to the office as often as possible.'

This is what a participant dropped on my lap last week.

My reaction was the following: 'That makes me sad. And you know, it’s a bit like with fish.'

Then I paused for a moment The room held its breath.

'Well, the fish always stinks from the head downwards.'

The room cracked up with laughter.

By the way, did you know Goldman Sachs CEO summoned his people back to the office full-time 2 weeks ago? It's the guy who stated during the pandemic that remote work is not the new normal, but simply an aberration. Well. Barely half of his employees turned up.

Poor chap.

Idea 2


Those who support working from home use the word autonomy with great enthusiasm. They will then often refer to the self-determination theory of Deci & Ryan. Two old American chaps who were already conducting research on what drives people back in 70s.

While reading articles written by Deci & Ryan the following caught my attention:

when they talk about autonomy, they are not talking about control options or choices – a concept sociologist Karasek does refer to. Deci & Ryan are talking about autonomous motivation: the ability to carry out those activities that make you happy or activities that you deem meaningful and purposeful.

In other words, if you use the word autonomy as being able to choose then you are referring to Karasek. If you want to refer to Deci & Ryan, then use the term autonomous motivation.

I see a clear link between Karasek’s autonomy and the ability to organise your own work in a hybrid setting.

I also see a clear link between Deci & Ryan’s autonomous motivation and hybrid work: to be invited to reflect upon an optimal, ergonomic, and responsible use of your time and energy.

So: both of them are interesting.

And both of them are linked to the future of work.

But don’t confuse the two of them.

Karasek and Deci & Ryan will thank you for it.

Idea 3


Do you know what storytelling means?

The more I work on the topic, the less obvious the definition seams.

  • Some talk about applying fixed narrative schemes, as those fervently used in American Pixar films (hero – problem – catharsis – all’s well that ends well).

  • Some refer to storytelling as “speak from the heart, be authentic”.

  • And yet there are others who claim that storytelling is the skill of the future for managers who want to bring meaning to their employees’ activities.

That Babylonian confusion of tongues gets on my nerves.

I’ll dig deeper into that in the coming weeks.

I hope to be able to shine my own light in that darkness.

2 quotes from others

Quote 1

loss of connection

'Whether an employee works often or seldom from home has little influence on the connection one feels with colleagues and the organisation', says Heidi Verlinden at Securex. 'The leadership style practiced in a company is much more important.'

Quote 2

working from home

'The way in which people respond to working from home and the pandemic is determined by two factors: individual characteristics and job characteristics. Individual characteristics concerns optimism, hope and flexibility. Job characteristics refer to the job’s requirements, whether people have autonomy, and whether there is support and clear communication.'

The above quote comes from Professor Kathleen Vangronsvelt of the Antwerp Management School.

I understand this quote as follows: it’s not that working from home is good or bad as such.

The vision on working from home is defined and shaped by the individual as well as the way in which a person may/must work.

Yep! I then also see a clear link between quotes 1 and 2.

1 question for you

Keep track of how many times you open your mailbox.

Are you ashamed at the end of the day?

Are you a knowledge worker? Then your email box should not be your primary workstation.

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