Welcome to the Colour;Noun newsletter!
It’s colder than it should be and it keeps pouring with rain, so it must be May. There is a sneaking suspicion that summer actually happened, between 12.28pm and 12.41pm on the 16th, in which case the next thing to look forward to is Hallowe'en.
Of course, having contacts all over the world as we do, it might seem strange that we open this newsletter with comments about the weather. This could only get more typically British if we had suggested you make a nice cup of tea first, and then gave you instructions about how to make a Perfect Cup of Tea*. Talking about the weather is a convention that everyone (here at least) is comfortable with as an opening conversational gambit… and we’re thinking a lot about conventions at the moment.
It’s undeniable that there has been a prolonged period of pausing the rhythms and tropes of modern life. It’s often said that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. The research says that isn’t true, but there is no doubt that behavioural change happens when a change in routine or habit is begun and maintained for a significant period of time. Having in person interactions is one of those.
Getting back together again
What was once the ongoing routine of small team meetings, larger group strategy get-togethers and annual conferences have been online now for a long time, and people have become habituated to them. While this has undoubtedly cut down on travel costs and pollution there have been a number of studies that suggest that video interaction is not good for people psychologically and it stifles true engagement. The problem is that in working remotely, people have got out of the habit of seeing each other.
It's a perfect time to start getting people back together, but with so much having changed over the last year, it's important to spend time reconnecting and recharging for the future. We're running "reboarding" workshops , designed for teams to re-engage and kick off their return to the office. Find out more here.
Making the most of your return to live events
We are all too aware of the pitfalls that can befall a badly designed event, so if your recollections of team meetings or conferences is one of tedium, overlong presentations and PowerPoint, PowerPoint, PowerPoint this is the chance to break that habit and establish something new.
Do you want to create an event to remember? Using what we've learnt from designing and facilitating events, we have put together a guide to help you get back into live events and think about them differently.
Read and download your free copy here.
We’re pleased to say that more and more people are having the confidence to book events and considering ways to engage people in the content in fresh ways - in fact, we are busy working on one right now, where we’ve swapped building slide decks for building go-karts to make some important points about collaboration in a senior leadership team. We do like to do things differently, after all…
We’ll tell you more about it next time, but right now it’s time to put the kettle on and watch the rain.
*If you put milk in while the teabag is still in the cup we cannot be friends.
Need help with your events?
If you're looking to reconnect your team, kick off a return to the office or simply get everyone together, our engaging breakout sessions, team building and team development sessions are available - we will help you design and facilitate memorable conferences and events.
If you'd like to talk through your event plans, book your free event chat here.
Do you remember that “Back to School” feeling?
I can recall a twin sense of unfairness and inevitability when the big signs in shops advertising everything from pens and pencils to shoes to trousers and blazers seemed to appear only a couple of weeks into the summer holidays.
It wasn’t that I hated school – quite the opposite – but the sensation was unavoidable that the informality and freedoms of the summer break would be replaced shortly, probably on a chilly morning in September, with the routine of getting up, getting ready, going out and submitting to the strictures, routines, requirements, expectations and workloads of the return to school. Yes, there had been a break, but the return would be going back to exactly what had existed before.
In adult life, many people still admit to that “Sunday afternoon, getting ready for Monday morning” feeling… but, like many things, that has been adapted into something else by the enforced, prolonged restrictions of Covid-19.
There have been many light-hearted comments on social media about “not wanting the pressure of seeing people in person again” when all this is over. While this is - in most cases - a joke that exists as a counterpoint to the reality of missing pre-pandemic interactions, I believe that all flippant remarks such as this one have a grain of truth in them.
Which brings us to the impending feeling of “Back to School”, or, in this instance, “Back to Work”. As the pressure mounts to return to something like normal, people will be required, for at least a couple of days a week, to abandon their assorted “home offices” and the freedoms that these have brought, for their work communities.
For many organisations universal remote working is neither practical nor desirable as a long-term solution. It will certainly have its place, and it is a welcome variation to the tyranny of expectation of five-days-a-week-in-the-office culture that was so prevalent before, but, as Caroline Fairbairn of the CBI said last year, your can’t innovate the future of your business from the sofa. Hybrid working might become more universally accepted, but people need to interact with each other, to share ideas and socialise, albeit in a work setting.
So, if people are reluctant to return, or are returning with anxieties or concerns, what can you do to help them, and how can you turn the experience of the past year to your advantage?
At Colour;Noun, we believe that the answer is reboarding. Historically, many businesses have mechanisms in place to reintegrate employees who had been away from work for a long period, whether through sickness, sabbatical or maternity leave. In addition, new starters are routinely onboarded, to introduce them to the company culture, get them used to the expectations of their role and help them apply their skills and experiences in a worthwhile way so that everybody benefits.
It is our belief that smart organisations will see, in a period of reboarding, the potential in incorporating the experiences and insights that have been gained over the past year to benefit everyone and make positive transformations to the work environment. To understand why we think this we would like to point you in the direction of Antifragile -Things That Gain from Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
The buzzword that has dominated the Covid response of many businesses is resilience, but resilience sets its standard, and its optimum achievement, to be bouncing back to a state that existed before. A rubber ball is resilient and will return to its previous form… but some things improve as a consequence of being stressed: muscle growth, broken bones, even the evolution of life itself to name but three.
One of the key points of this concept is embracing the setback. Exercised muscles hurt, broken bones come from trauma, and evolutionary changes occur when some organisms adapt better to changed circumstances than ones that do not survive - but the essential point is that they come back from stress better than before.
Everyone has been changed by what we have been through. There have been many stresses to business and society. Attitudes have undoubtedly been altered and new ways of working have been trialled and adopted. Embracing these changes – discussing them and unpicking the lessons that they hold - can make a huge difference to the experience of work and make that “first day back at school” feeling something to be excited about, rather than daunting. It may also make your business better and fitter than it was before.
Are you looking to reboard your team? Read more on our reboarding workshop offer here.
After a long period of home-working - and for many, home schooling - this summer will see a return to live events, conferences and away days.
We have huge experience of working on all types of team meetings, so we've created our "7 ways to get the most out of your return to live events" guide, which shares some of our thoughts, tips and insights.
Give it a read below!
Colour; Noun (Vicky Holding and Howard Karloff)