Hybrid working, and what about the team spirit?


What about the team feeling, if your people don’t see each other?


After the pandemic, it has actually only begun. We just went to work before the lockdown, during the lockdown we worked at home as much as possible. And after that? After that it got tricky. Difficult for people who were already used to working from home. Hard on the managers who wanted to see the team again. Also for the newcomers to the team who came on board during this period and had never seen their colleagues in real life. Complex, because many organizations were looking for how to proceed now. The group of people who previously worked together in the company was seen as a team. But that team was now scattered and quickly became a group of people working together.

The benefits of working from home were clear to the home workers. No more travel time and traffic frustrations. A better balance between private and business. Much less distraction from small talk and colleagues popping in. And also start the dishwasher in between and empty it or prepare dinner in advance. Or go for a run in between. Of course there were also disadvantages. You suddenly brought the company into your house. Where was the moment of switching off from one and preparing for the other that you normally did in the car, train or bicycle? You also missed that chat at the coffee machine or printer. Or eat together during the break. Even queuing up in traffic, in your own bubble, was missed. Me-time became a concept. Especially with poor planning in which many people had meeting after meeting. Without a break or even a short walk to another room. You just sat glued to your screen.

But there were also advantages and disadvantages from an organizational perspective. Many people’s productivity increased. But the biggest drawback was managing all the people. Now that you don’t see them, you have to look at the situation differently yourself. Or what many organizations did, requiring all people to come back to the company or office. Just the way it “always” was. Many people did not want to come back completely. Intermediate forms were considered. Not choosing a bit. It became hybrid working. That would solve everything. The best of both worlds. Polderen, very well known to the Dutch. Agreements were made such as two or three days at the workplace and the rest remote. I also heard “every first Tuesday of every month at the workplace and the rest remote”.

“If everyone works remotely, where will the team spirit go?”

“If everyone works remotely, where will the team spirit go?” Many HR managers, managers and directors came to us with this question recently. And “why is it that not everyone comes to work on the agreed days?” The answer to that is actually very simple. The solution a lot less. You have to see it this way. Coming back from lockdown is not the same as coming back from a long trip or summer vacation. In this last situation, people did something completely different that had nothing to do with work. During the lockdown we worked in new circumstances. And that worked. Even quite good. So why return to the old situation? Just because some people desire it? Because this is something to hold on to for them? That’s a very good reason. But unfortunately, the old situation cannot return. It’s like a teenager who was allowed to go out a few times on the weekend. You can’t say there, you can’t do that anymore. Try to forget it. People know the other situation, so they notice that there is a choice. It is possible that your organization does not give you that choice. Another organization does. Remote working has also created a figurative distance from the people to the organization. This also makes choosing another organization easier.

The question of team spirit remains. How do you work on that? First of all, by seeing who can do something about this. That’s the organization! The organization must first reinvent itself, as it were. It must be able to reposition itself in such a way that it is again attractive to existing and new employees. As you were in 2020, you are no longer attractive now. Unless… Unless you grow with the times. And how? By determining together a way of working that suits you. You can partly do that yourself, but that last trick – that dot-on-the-i – you need (our) help with that. That requires the perspective of concerned outsiders.

This last step requires a behavioral change from the organization. We know that an organization is not a person, so that behavioral change is necessary from management, board, HR and more. There is still some work there. But it is these people who can make the difference. They can make the organization attractive again, so that people want to belong. And if I want to belong to something, I don’t have to be there every day. Or do you? Think about your favorite sports club. Do you have to be there every day to feel the connection?

Working remotely can also be in one place with a few people, it is just not in the organization’s building.

Do you want to know more about how we can help you with this change? Do you want to know more about which ways of working are also attractive to you people? Or do you want to know how you can create more connection? Feel free to call me or Mirjam. We are happy to help you.

Have a nice day, wherever you are!




More about group dynamics and change in
  • the blocks (chapters) “to communicate” and “to visualize” in our book Cement (in Dutch)

Edwin is not just a visionary expressed through his longreads, but also adept at conveying his ideas through presentations and real-world client interactions. He is a lover of Scandinavia and that's noticeable. Through an array of examples and metaphors, his infectious enthusiasm becomes a catalyst for inspiring, motivating, and fostering connections among individuals. Collaborating closely with his wife and partner, Mirjam, Edwin leads individuals through periods of change. Their shared mission revolves around forging impactful connections – connections that ignite leadership inspiration, foster team cohesion, and catalyze organizational transformation.

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