Career Advice

Back to the Office

9 Aug 2023  

This week has brought three interesting stories, all with a common theme. The takeaway: it is time to get back to the office.

The Stories

The first big story is that Taylor Swift is wrapping up the first leg of her Eras Tour. It has been a stunning entertainment spectacle. Her performances have brought joy, sparked local economies, and rocked the earth. Some say she is on track to earn more than a billion dollars, and nobody is upset by this. She is earning it by captivating her fans.

The show will go on, so don’t worry if you’ve missed out so far. More concerts are coming up in 2023 and 2024.

Then this weekend in Chicago, Lollapalozza brought almost half a million people together over four days.

People dressed up in their festival finest to watch a range of acts from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to New Jeans to Lainey Wilson. I wasn’t there but it was apparently packed and festive and joyful.

And earlier this week Zoom announced that employees would need to start coming back to the office, at least two days a week. Many companies have been making similar moves, but we’ve hit a new milestone when Zoom decides that Zoom isn’t sufficient.

The Common Insight

Behind all these stories is a common insight: people do best when they are physically together. It is difficult to recreate this on Zoom or Teams. The power of a Taylor Swift concert isn’t just her fabulous voice and show; it is the common shared experience. There is something magical about being together with other people in the moment.

Lollapalozza doesn’t seem so great on the surface. Who wants to be crammed in a park with more than 100,000 other people and expensive refreshments? But the power of the event is being with everyone else.

This all applies to work, too. When people are together, there is a common experience, and it is impossible to recreate this on a digital platform. When you are physically with someone, you naturally will build a relationship. You ask about their summer, and their dog, and their marathon training. You complain about the boss and the latest company policy. All of this chatter builds relationships.

Relationships matter because they are the foundation for trust. If you know something about a person, you begin to have confidence in them. You can ask them for guidance and help. You can bounce off ideas, “So what do you think of this?”

Advice for the Fall

In a couple weeks it will be Labor Day, and the world will get back to work. Kids will be off to school. College students will be settling into their dorms.

This is a great moment to shift the schedule and make time in the office your norm. Working from home one day a week is still a viable approach, maybe even two days a week. But the more you physically show up, the more you will build relationships, and this will make work more productive and more fun, though still not as fun as a Taylor Swift concert.


Checking In

It is always entertaining to see how things develop in the world. Here is a look at two brands I’ve written about recently.

Earlier this year I marveled at the stunning success of Fifty-Fifty and their song Cupid. I recommended a variety of branding moves to capture the moment.

How has everything been going for the group?

Not well. Instead of seizing the moment, Fifty-Fifty has gotten into a bitter fight with its manager. Accusations have been flying both ways. The group’s manager argues that another agency is trying to lure the group away. The singers argue the manager isn’t being honest and transparent. It has all ended up in court and momentum has completely stalled out. A sad story. It will be difficult for Fifty-Fifty to recapture the momentum.

When we last checked on Tyson, things weren’t going well. This week brought more news, and things just keep getting worse. Profits are plummeting, the company is closing production facilities.

Now some will argue that this is just due to the cyclical nature of the industry. Unfortunately, that argument doesn’t hold up as Tyson’s competitors are delivering much better results.

It appears Tyson continues to be grossly mismanaged. The disastrous decision to consolidate offices in Arkansas was apparently indicative of larger problems.

I’m still optimistic the company and its stock will rebound someday. It looks like it will be a very long wait.

Branding Program

The next session of the Strategies that Build Winning Brands program starts on August 23. This is a six-week course, a mix of videos, application assignments, live sessions with me and Julie Hennessy, and coaching from Abigail Staples and Breann Davis. It is a great program. You can learn more and sign up here.

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