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The Skinny


Posted on Saturday, March 19


Weekly Skinny

Let’s start off on the right foot

“Stand for something or you will fall for anything. Today’s mighty oak is yesterday’s nut that held its ground.” –Rosa Parks

The skinny

The office was never one-size-fits-all, but one-size-fits-one. And the rest just had to force it.

This topic is like Tom Brady…

Ha. Always comin’ back to haunt you! Honestly tho, more information is being uncovered in this gigantic social experiment brought about by the pandemic.  

You say social experiment, I say…

Not in front of the kids. But really, if you take a bird’s-eye view of how we used to work, the office set-up was like a paper mâché face mask (circa elementary school) for white men, aka a perfect fit. Even down to the temperature settings of some offices.  

What does that mean?

School is in session. One of the earliest open-office plans debuted in 1939, when women made up less than 1/3 of the country’s labor force. That design, not so different than our pre-pandemic modern office spaces, fit the needs of the majority.  

That majority runs hot?

Pull that Band-Aid off home skillet, it’s not getting hot in here...Traditional office temperatures generally follow a model developed in the 1960s that was based on the resting metabolic rate of a 40-year-old man weighing 154 pounds.


Pass the Snuggies. But it doesn’t end there; people of color—who already run the risk of feeling isolated at work—felt left out of office banter that, perhaps unintentionally, centered around topics that might not be accessible to everyone.  

But why does that matter?

If office culture is centered around one particular group of people, that leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to a diverse employee group feeling comfortable and confident at work or returning to work.  

You can’t go home again…

Interesting thought, right? Which is why many women, people of color, those with disabilities, and introverts are saying they are thriving while working from home. They don’t feel the pressure to fit into a place that wasn’t made for them.  

This is getting deep.

There’s a reason many top employers, with mostly white male CEOs, are calling employees back to the office.  

They like it.

As they should. Why wouldn’t you like a place that was custom built for you? In a survey of 10,000 office workers, a sense of belonging at work increased for 24% of Black knowledge workers working remotely, compared with 5% of white knowledge workers since May 2021.

But things are improving, right?

If flexibility isn’t the hot word of 2022, then I’ll eat my hat. Things are getting better at organizations taking the lessons learned from this gigantic social experiment and making changes.

Cha cha cha cha changes.

Yup. Those organizations are the ones whose leaders really and truly realize that hiring a diverse workforce doesn’t just start and end with hiring; it means adjusting company culture to meet the needs of that workforce with flexibility and empathy.  

Totes quotes: “What have companies done to upskill senior leaders and managers so they’re going back into the office with empathy? Not one single person who re-enters the office in the next three months is the same as the one who left.” –Chantalle Couba, consultant 

Date with data: Before the pandemic, only about 4% of employed people in the U.S. worked exclusively from home.  

Double date: 43% of employers think hybrid is the way of the future.

For you: How organizations can support women’s mental health at work.

Further reading: Why forcing employees to return to work can be a bad idea.

The skinny

Identifying an employee’s love language can help you understand how they like to be shown appreciation.

Say what?

Love languages. Basically, how people prefer to give and receive affection or, in the workplace, languages of appreciation.

But what are they?

Quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, or gifts.  

You’re going soft on me.

Unlike low-rise jeans, this is actually a thing. Even a mining company, South Dakota-based Pete Lien & Sons, have workers’ hard hats color-coordinated to match their love/appreciation language.


Really. Tuck in your eye-rolls crew, because understanding how employees want to be shown appreciation is how you’re going to increase retention, overall employee satisfaction, and even reduce workplace accidents.

Fine, I’ll bite.

Crunchy. It’s the difference between giving a free lunch vs. a compliment. And employers across the country are stepping up their appreciation game with shopping spree giveaways, thank-a-thons, extra days off, open door and/or calendar policies, and…tacos.


Appreciation is like a leaky bucket; you have to continuously fill it for it to have any positive effect. But beware and be aware of whom you recognize on a regular basis. Some employees are good at showcasing their talents, but others may feel uncomfortable tooting their own horn.

All aboard the brag boat.

Exactly. Make sure your recognition goes beyond dollars made and touches on those that contribute in other ways. Like someone who is really good at supporting others or giving back to their communities.

Totes quotes: “It’s the goose and the golden egg. You have to treat people well for them to want to do more for the organization.” –Chris Brennan, performance specialist for HR firm, Insperity

For you: Find out your love language.

Here’s something to…


Celebrating women's voices