November 3rd, 2021

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Return-To-Office Bingo

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What words and phrases do you expect to hear when your company returns to the office?

If you're suddenly feeling overwhelmed by contemporary office lingo, this Return-To-Office Bingo card will help your team prepare for the modern realities of workplace culture.

Our hope is that by discussing — or just laughing about — some of the ways the in-office experience is changing, people will feel more connected to their coworkers. Maybe it’ll even add a little brightness to the workday at a time when we could all use something to smile about.

What does Shakespeare have to do with Return-To-Office Bingo?

The corporate office isn't going away — it's just changing. And how we talk about work is changing right along with it. From optimistic conversations about a "new normal" and the "future of work", to more serious discussions on the so-called "great resignation" and "burnout culture", it seems there's always a new phrase du jour.

Historical perspective on new lingo

Obviously, this isn’t the first time in history that made a major impact on modern language. In fact, many events and historical figures have contributed to its evolution — and just like today, these changes are sometimes met with some resistance.

Though he’s credited with coining many terms that are still in use today, even Shakespeare himself was once accused of “ruining” the English language.

Among the over 1,700 words that can be attributed to Shakespeare, he coined terms such as "manager" and "traditional".  Plus, he's also behind the first known usage of the “knock-knock, who’s there” dialogue. Knock, knock! Who’s there? Another phrase we can all thank Shakespeare for: "break the ice". This popular expression also doubles as the perfect piece of advice for leaders looking for ways to have fun and build strong connections between colleagues when it's time to return to the office.

Boost connection by breaking the ice

Your return-to-office plans will probably generate some excitement, mixed with feelings of nervousness.

Think about the new hires who joined your team during the pandemic. Onboarding was handled remotely, all their meetings have been virtual, and there's a decent chance they feel somewhat anxious about starting conversations with people they've only interacted with online.

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Even employees who started before the lockdowns might be unsure how to approach the first conversation with someone unfamiliar to them. Remember, people haven't had an abundance of face-to-face interaction during the course of the pandemic and their social skills might be a bit rusty.

Renowned psychotherapist and host of the How's Work podcast Esther Perel says that group activities are a helpful way to encourage colleagues to get to know each other and foster a sense of connection. In an article for Quartz, Perel offered this bit of advice to leaders: "Cut your meetings short and leave time for play."

Ready to play Return-To-Office Bingo?

Returning employees can consult this guide to discover new words and phrases, in addition to terms with new meanings. Plus, we’ll share some context around the new catchphrases and experiences that reflect the evolution of workplace culture.

With that goal in mind, let's explore a few of our favorite Return-To-Office Bingo squares so you can start filling your workplace with some fun.

"You're on mute"

After the pandemic, there was a 329% increase in mentions of "on mute" in corporate call transcripts.

The phrase “on mute” was used an average of 100 times per quarter before the pandemic, according to an analysis of transcribed earnings calls, conferences, and analyst and shareholder meetings conducted by Quartz. Then, in the second quarter of 2020, following the outbreak of COVID-19, its usage skyrocketed to 429 mentions — a 329% increase.

"Book online, work from office"

This phrase contrasts the ability to reserve workspace from anywhere with traditional, more static methods.

 

We covered the benefits of a "book online, work from office" — known acronymically as BOWO — in a recent blog post. The implication here is that employees can book desks and reserve rooms without needing to be present in the workplace to do so. It’s a way to bridge the gaps between a mobile-first, hybrid workforce and effective space utilization of corporate buildings.

"Physical distancing"

"Social distance" was first used in 1824, but new variations have made it into the top 11% of words, according to Merriam-Webster.

 

According to Merriam-Webster, “social distance” was first used in 1824, and is now in the top 11% of words, and the first known use of “socially distance” was in 1984 while now in the top 16 in terms of popularity.  These days, it's far more common to use the more appropriate term, "physical distancing", which conveys physical separation that’s separate from being distant socially. 

Schedule an on-site meeting

When should you meet in person? A Harvard Business Review article recently proposed a new framework for making that decision.

 

According to a recent Harvard Business Review article, if the goal of your meeting involves navigating interpersonal and other complexities, or carefully balancing competing priorities, an in-person meeting may be more appropriate.

Are you getting tired of hearing "You're on mute" and "Sorry, go ahead" several times a day? If so, you're not alone. Participating in back-to-back virtual meetings can be especially draining when the connection is spotty causing a lag in the audio or video. On top of that, remote attendees say they're struggling to contribute to meeting conversations. When you add it all up, it's no wonder that real-time meetings are seeming more and more appealing these days. But since it's been a while since employees have had the chance to use your conference rooms, it's important to prevent bad meeting behavior and avoid any wasted space.

One of the best ways to help your workforce make the most out of their time in the office is to simplify the process of finding, booking, and organizing their on-site meeting schedule. And if your conference room scheduling software integrates with your company's existing calendar system, adoption rates go up and life is even easier for your employees.

Flexible seating

As organizations shift to hybrid work models, flexible seating arrangements are soaring in popularity.

 

Hot desking is an arrangement that allows employees to book desks on a first-come, first-served basis. Desk hoteling allows employees to reserve their desks ahead of time, much like booking a hotel. Flexible seating helps address two of the pandemic’s biggest problems: Getting the most out of existing real estate and supporting a wide range of fluctuation in office-based attendance and remote work.

Don't forget: When you switch to flexible seating, it may be more difficult for employees to find one another. With a mobile employee experience app that lets users search for their colleagues, they can spend more time collaborating and less time wandering around to find their team.

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"Zoom fatigue"

While virtual meetings are a necessary part of the workday, many people have grown tired of back-to-back video chats.

 

While the virtual meeting format wasn’t new, forced shutdowns and the shift to remote work caused a huge uptick in online meetings because their existence offered a simple solution to forced lockdowns by connecting people outside of the physical offices. Interestingly, even Zoom employees will be going back to the office according to a statement the company made in August saying they would be “strategically mixing remote and in-office work.”

"Are you remote today?"

Today, business leaders understand that company culture goes beyond the walls of physical offices.

 

Today, business leaders understand that company culture goes beyond the walls of physical offices, and at the same time know that in-person experiences will While managing a hybrid work model can be a challenge, many employees believe having more flexibility at work has benefitted their well-being. On the other hand, working from home might force some employees to deal with a lack of privacy, frequent interruptions, and feelings of isolation. Hybrid work helps gain the best of both worlds, and many experts say it’s where the future of the workplace is headed.

"Blursday"

According to worldwide Google Trends Data, “what day is it” hit an all-time high in April of 2020.

 

The search for which day it is hit an all-time high in April of 2020. Perhaps that’s partially because people are working longer hours than before the pandemic, and 70% of employees report working on weekends, according to a survey from staffing firm Robert Half. It’s no wonder all the days have started to blend together.

Get your downloadable Return-To-Office Bingo card

We designed the Return-To-Office Bingo card as a fun way to help open the door for connection as returning employees consider how the pandemic has influenced how we talk about work. 

The rules of Return-To-Office Bingo are simple: As soon as you have five across, down, or diagonal you have BINGO! We hope your employees enjoy playing, find commonalities with their colleagues, and that it helps put everyone at ease while you return to the office. If so, everyone is a winner.

Get your Return-To-Office Bingo card. It's downloadable, printable, and a lot of fun.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Teem

Teem by iOFFICE provides enterprises with space scheduling and management, workplace analytics, building, and campus wayfinding, and visitor management to help cultivate workplaces that fuel productivity, efficiency, and creativity.

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