Redefining The Workplace After Covid

May 18, 2021
Redefining The Workplace After Covid - Conversations Worth Having

Monday Kickstarters is a working session designed for everyone on the call to figure out how to have conversations worth having when faced with a tough situation, challenge, or problem. The process is based upon the book, Conversations Worth Having.  You can listen live to this session on Vimeo.

Monday, May 17 we talked about some of the challenges associated with going back to the workplace and whether some people can stay working from home. This is especially difficult for cities who are concerned that citizens know their tax dollars are being well spent. We also heard a story of how “naming it” can sometimes open the door to shift a conversation.

Making Decisions for Workplace Policy for PR Reasons

The challenge for someone was the Mayor who wanted everyone back at work 100% of the time because he wanted to manage citizen perception. City leaders need to make decisions about bringing people back into the workplace and some city employees found they were far more productive working from home and were interested in continuing to do that. City leadership is concerned about how citizens will react; the fear-based assumption is they will think their tax dollars are being wasted when people aren’t in the office. The challenge is how to make a good decision and make sure citizen know it is a good decision.

  • Name it: Senior leaders making decisions about work policy based upon fear of presumed perception.
  • Flip it: Senior leaders not making work policy based upon fear of presumed perception.
  • Frame it: The city is creating a workplace policy that maximizes productivity and best supports citizen understanding and perception.


The word “support” was ‘manages’ during our session. Language is important. The goal was not to do whatever the city wanted and “manage” perception, the goal was to make policy based upon best practices and cost savings and then make sure citizens understand how the decision was made and how it’s a cost benefit.

Other possible positive frames:

  • We make decisions based upon what is most productive for the city.
  • A policy that meets the needs of the public and employees for safety and access.
  • The city is creating workplace policy that maximizes productivity for employees and the citizens.
  • Maximizing productivity and managing citizen understanding
  • The mayor makes the decision based on the needs of the citizens AND what is safest for the workers while also allowing productivity.
  • We provide valuable services to the citizens of this city, and we are at our most productive when working together, with all the services and accommodations of our office.
  • Creating citizen understanding while maximizing productivity.

A Story About Shifting the Tone and Direction of a Phone Call

“A new business relationship did not feel good. Every time we talked, we kept going back and forth–when you did this….  Instead of continuing to go back and forth, I just named it and asked, ‘What would it feel like for you to get off the phone with me and feel good about our interaction? What would have to happen for that?’

“I wish I could say it was totally resolved, it’s not, but the tone and direction shifted a bit. Generative questions are really a great tool for doing that.”


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