The Future of Work: Relationship Rebuilding and Network Connections

By Josh Hotsenpiller, CEO of JUNO, Human Connection Expert

If you’ve been working on WiFi for the last 14 months, a return to the office may be jarring. Association professionals made the pivot from usually predominantly people-centric office spaces to recreate what they could online.  Work styles and relationship equity helped many get things done. As we face another change now, in the return to offices, the future of work looks different. It’s hybrid, just like the future of events.

A Deloitte study showed 61% of executives are focusing on Reimagining Work: Achieving new or different work outcomes with new combinations of technology and people. That means individuals must manage their own networks and relationships in new ways - with technology and people.

Follow these tips to stay open to human connection work for virtual and in-person situations. Put focus on them now to ease the path for yourself and your staff so they in turn can set the tone for volunteers, members and event participants.

Actively seek to connect and reconnect

Keeping an open mind about connecting is paramount. The right times and styles to connect may have shifted, even with people you had considered friends. The nation, the world, has had a joint experience, yes. But within everyone’s homes, and hearts, singular experiences occurred. The workmate you used to go to drinks with every Friday may have experienced a deep loss that he has not yet revealed. The colleague who always brought donuts may have experienced a loss in family income.

There are no hard and fast rules about the right times and ways to connect. Communication about that very fact will help pave the way. For member events, be sure to work in time for connections and use tools to aid everyone. At JUNO we encourage clients to think about two different audiences (virtual and in-person) but in three different environments  -- virtual, in-person and the blended hybrid spaces combining people and technology.

Keep personal settings open to connection

If the WiFi setting is turned off on your phone, your chance of connecting is zero. Drop your guard around others to show the vulnerability that helps others know it’s safe to connect with you. During the work-from-home era, those with messy backgrounds and no makeup earned respect from many for authenticity points. Children and dogs on laps indicated an openness to connecting freely.

As people return to offices, drop their children off at school, overcome straight up anxiety about moving around in the world, emotion will leak out. Roll with complicated relationship rebuilding.

At events, a slow and measured opening day will help more people build to their ideal comfort level. Specifically recognizing pain and grief may exist will help everyone feel welcome and included.

Recognize available connections to support goals

Determine who is in your network, because it may look different than before. The industry has lost a severe number of people, and their intellectual property along with them. As rebuilding happens for associations and event firms as well, new and energizing ideas will come forth. Technology companies like ours that have entered the space now expand the skill sets you can access. Certification programs are abound to help event professionals in particular meet this “new normal” so talk to your network about what they have learned during the past 14 months. Remember, the connections you need may not be physically accessible to you but rather in a virtual environment. The future of work is hybrid, as are events.

Determine what you want to discover

As you review the landscape of your network, you’ll find areas where you want to grow. As you re-establish connections, get a bit selfish about how that might benefit you. Get selfish especially about how new connections might benefit your team and boost their growth overall.

It’s time to start thinking about accelerating personal growth. Your constituents certainly are. Businesses that have stagnated are re-energizing. Organizations that have been slowed by pandemic and economic forces are bursting out into the new Roaring ’20s.

With all your settings open and connections identified, you are ready to roar along the connection highway yourself. Connecting doesn’t happen by accident. Even if two humans are brought into each others’ spaces accidentally, connection is a conscious activity.

The effort you make to

  • Actively seek to connect and re-connect
  • Keep personal settings open to connection
  • Recognize available connections to support goals and
  • Determine what you want to discover

will support your future goals and that of your organization.

Happy connecting.