Returning To The Office, The New Normal at Cured

This month Cured teams returned to our offices in Indianapolis and Boulder, with Chicago to re-open in August. This return comes with a tremendous amount of excitement — we all want to see each other in person, to get to know the faces and voices of our teammates and customers outside of a virtual screen; and to show off our sourdough starters, our weirdly complex board games, and our victory garden hauls. It feels great to wake up from this hibernation and to engage in person again, both in and out of the workplace. But while we all make this transition, we have a rare opportunity to rethink, reimagine, and redefine what it means to be in an office. It’s valuable to reflect upon what we’ve learned from the past year and a half of quarantine, and on how we can bring some of that into the future with us as we create a new normal.

Arthur Brooks, in a recent Atlantic article, posed four questions that sparked many discussions amongst us at Cured. These questions forced us to answer the question, “what do we want to bring forward from remote work life and what do we want to leave behind?” (like never showering…) While it’s exciting to return to the office, it can come with a host of anxieties, concerns, and apprehensions: going outside in public, uncertainty on people’s vaccination, and most importantly, wearing real pants…. Like, every day. Pant-jokes aside, these are real issues for all of us to tackle, both as individuals and as corporate entities.

We took a hard look at ourselves with these questions in mind and came up with what we want in the new normal, and what we definitely do not.

9–5?! Nuh-uh: Curing Unhealthy Attitudes Towards Work

One vestige of old office life we certainly will not miss is the prioritization of work over all else. We can recall innumerable anecdotes, where former co-workers and we felt pressure to come into the office unless we were really, really sick. Regular colds and flus need not apply. We also felt like we had to stay and work until at least 5 PM regardless of when we started our day, or when we work best, or family commitments, or the state of our physical and emotional health. The pressure persisted regardless of official corporate policy because our deadlines were real, our work was important, and we felt a sense of ownership and commitment to it. But it’s the health of a team that’s vital. We can all feel that productivity is at its highest when there’s enough flexibility built in for people to feel comfortable adapting their schedules to allow themselves opportunities for self-care and personal wellbeing. Our teammates at Cured do an amazing job of this, and we hope that other organizations adopt a similar culture. Without a doubt, a really effective work environment is one where people aren’t as focused on optics, and are instead spending their time being healthy and productive.

Work + Life Balance means different things to different people

Extending beyond the workday, the pandemic allowed people to double-down on a focus towards healthy work-life balance. As our offices moved into our homes, we virtually welcomed all of our co-workers into our personal spaces, and we got to see more authentic versions of each other. Sharing recipes, self-care regimens, family milestones, and everything in between has become the norm as we truly got to know each other and gained a deeper appreciation for the rest of each other’s lives. With that came a more real understanding of what it takes to maintain wellbeing, which helped to build a culture where it’s okay to step away from work in the middle of the day for yoga, therapy, a break, a doctor’s appointment, dog training sessions, or to autolyze a sourdough loaf. Making sure that we hold on to this holistic view of how our work and our personal lives intersect is important as we create the new office normal. The boundaries will shift as we find what’s right for us, but keeping the attitude that this integration is a good and necessary part of our culture is paramount.

For some of the more introverted members of the Cured family working remotely has been a relief, a silver lining in the awful cloud of pandemic life. Not everybody shared as deeply from their personal life during remote work, and that’s okay. Giving everyone the space to maintain or to re-establish their privacy as they return to the office can help strike an important distinction; for some people, being authentic in the workplace is an inherently private endeavor. As we rebuild our community and culture, we should be mindful that authenticity means different things to different people.

Little zen > Lotta cubes

Expectations of how we each work in an office environment have certainly changed, but the office environment itself, also needs to morph into a new phase to align with new desires we all have. Gone are the days of stuffy cubes and confined spaces. Welcome are the days of open communities with flexible workspaces and real-life amenities that help us all remain healthy, happy, and well-adjusted.

We must embrace the comforts that we are all accustomed to in our own private spaces and homes: having a quiet place to go when we need a break, creating accessible work areas so that we are comfortable throughout the day, providing escapes nearby to the office to allow for those mid-day breathers (from coffee shops to gyms)… all of these things are conveniences that none of us want to lose, although we are probably all sick of being home…

Certainly, we cannot control every aspect of our offices, but we can strive to create spaces that work for everyone at Cured and to ensure that we continually improve upon those to ensure that we living out our values as a company, as a team, and as individuals.

Fist bump!

We cannot say this enough, but we are thrilled to have the opportunity to meet with our wonderful customers face-to-face again soon! We look forward to further extending these updated practices outside of Cured’s office walls. We cannot wait to get back with our customers to not only ensure the success of our partnerships but to further build and strengthen those vital long-term relationships that we value so highly. Soon we will get the chance to give each of them a fist bump at one of many events this fall: HIMSS, Dreamforce, SHSMD, HLTH, HMPS, HCIC, as well as JPM and ACHE’s Congress on Healthcare Leadership early next year.

Changing for the better

There’s much to look forward to, and many opportunities to restructure how we see an office and how we interface our personal and professional lives, as we reinvent life in the office. We should take care to keep what we loved from the remote work lives we’ve built and to cultivate a healthier and more adaptive in-person culture where we have greater ownership of our work and our schedules.