The Almost-Return to the Office. Still Better Than No Office At All.

A year ago, during the heart of COVID, we were all working in basements, bedrooms, patios, car hatchbacks (seriously!) and yet, for the most part, we had hit our stride. We had gotten really good at being 100% remote and had accepted that it was how it needed to be. 

We didn’t start to think of a different normal until spring and, even then, it was with some hesitation and uncertainty.  But as vaccinations started rolling out, there was a sense of hope that a new-normal might actually take shape. Maybe, just maybe, we were getting to the other side of the pandemic. 

So, in the spring of 2021, we surveyed our people.  We learned three important things:

1. The majority of our people wanted to return to the office in some capacity

2. The majority of our people also wanted to continue to work from home in some capacity.

3. 90% felt totally comfortable returning if all staff were vaccinated. 

By May, we felt confident planning our own re-entry at Hanson Dodge.  We’d be in the office for three days -- Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday -- and work from home Thursday and Friday.  We (collective we) were excited by the new plan, striking the right balance for our people, our culture, and our clients. 

On June 7, we were back.  In person.  With coffee.  And donuts.  And casual chatter. 

There was an energy and excitement.

It was great.

We got together on the rooftop.

We saw the legs of people we had only known as heads on a Zoom call.

Some folks finally got that third space that had been missing. 

Then came Delta.

It felt like a punch in the gut.

By mid-August, we were following the CDC and local guidelines for wearing masks indoors regardless of vaccination status.  As an option, we also gave our people the choice to move to 100% remote.  Many did.  But not all.

Now we are in this weird, hybrid workplace that feels both familiar and annoying.  Familiar because we have done this for more than 18 months.  Annoying because we don’t want to be doing it any longer.

Unlike the early days of the pandemic when there was a sense of fear and uncertainty, Delta feels like we have to gut our way through it. We know how to end the pandemic, we know how to adapt to remote work, and we know what our new normal can be like. 

Yeah, it’s a drag to put a mask on to get a cup of coffee, go to the restroom, or be in a meeting.  But virtually everyone agrees it's still better than another Zoom meeting from the basement.  What we are learning is that we need and want time together.  Even working in person with a mask takes us to places we might not have gotten to otherwise. 

The reality is that after 18 months of isolation, it’s good to be together.  Masks and all. 

And slowly more and more HDers are choosing to put that mask on and come back to the office. Monday through Wednesday. 

Welcome back.


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