By Janine Lazarus

I’ve had enough. There, I’ve said it.

I long for the energy of presence, regular face-to-face contact and a shared sense of social identity.

I call this the X-factor. This has to do with connections, engagement and being with our colleagues. It is the need we have for each other and to be united around something that matters. It is also the positive obligation to contribute to the group and culture, and to share our talents and build relationships.

After nearly two years of working from home in my tracksuit pants and fluffy pink slippers with my cat flashing his rear during Team meetings, I’m ready to throw in the towel.

Its more than the perverted sense of obligation to be on call 24/7, or of having no boundaries between my work and personal life. It’s about the real breakdown in the art of communication.

The ability to communicate messages that resonate has declined in virtual conferencing spaces where people log off after a meeting has concluded. We’ve lost the ability to listen, to empathise, to think and to respond – all critical elements in a discussion or conversation.

If I reflect on my experience of coaching virtually during lockdown, I think of irritating technical glitches, that pesky mute button and my perpetual plea for delegates to turn on their cameras – even if they haven’t put on their war paint or had their hair done. And even then, it’s difficult for me to read non-verbal cues and reactions to conversations through small visual windows.

It’s human nature to pay attention to what’s directly in front of us. We are most focused on what we can see, hear and experience most immediately. Being together just makes us smarter.

My in-person workshops are known for their no-holds-barred and in-your-face approach. I shoot straight and take no prisoners. I thrive on raw, human interaction and the positive emotional contagion of just being together. I crave connection.

I love what I do and do it best in person. That’s why I’m pivoting my business back to the trenches of face-to-face workshops. It’s the way I guarantee my clients will get more bang for their buck.

The opportunity to return to the office in 2022 doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing prospect. Some continued work from home will be a positive outcome from all we’ve learned over the past 22 months.

But don’t underestimate what you’ll gain by getting back to your people.