5 books to help with the transition back to IRL

Natalie Pearce
The Future Kind Collective
4 min readSep 16, 2021


Photo by Siora Photography on Unsplash

Like many, I’ve been enjoying the return to the physical world. Despite learning that I’m more introverted than I previously thought over the various lockdowns, I’ve still missed human interaction, both in my personal and professional lives. But as Alicia — my fellow co-founder at The Future Kind Collective — and I reflected on our recent uptick in IRL interactions, including our first face-to-face workshop in almost TWO YEARS (!), we realised that we’re also feeling cautious about what this return means. The idea of “going back to normal” conjures up lots of positives — collaboration, commection, creativity, inspiration — but let’s not gloss over the darker side of our pre-pandemic lives — stress, burnout, sickness. We’ve been talking with ach other about how we can take it slow, and have set ourselves a challenge to make sure that we can bring back all of the best bits of IRL and leave behind the not so great bits.

To help with this, we’ve curated a reading list of books that can help ease us into the physical world in a way that makes us work at our best, either individually through getting focused on new habits (see Atomic Habits), or remembering the feeling of speaking to a room rather than a Zoom (see How to Own the Room) or by making the most of when we do come together in person when meeting our teams again (see The Culture Code, The Art of Gathering and The Power of Moments).
We hope you find something useful in these great reads.

Atomic Habits by James Clear

As we ease into hybrid working, it’s a great time to establish how we adapt our routines and habits, whilst also keeping any of the good habits we created from the last year, like walking outside more (this was a big one for me!). This book has all the tips on how to do this, plus how to get rid of bad habits that don’t serve us and how to design the right environments that make new habits stick.

The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle

This bible for all people leaders is all about how to build a great culture and the key pillars which underpin this: safety, vulnerability and purpose. This was written way before the pandemic but we think it’s just as relevant now as we’re finally meeting many colleagues in person for the first time and building or rebuilding our team and working connections.

The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker

This is a must read for facilitators, but also for anyone who wants to bring people together into creative and transformative spaces where real change can happen. In this book, you’ll learn how to design gatherings (note: a meeting or workshop is a gathering) with intention, care and in a way that ultimately gets you the results you need.

The Power of Moments by Chip & Dan Heath

Our lives are made up of defining moments and we often assume that these things just happen to us by chance. But this book looks at how defining moments happen, what they have in common and how you can create them. Whether online or IRL, these moments build connection, enrich your life and improve experiences for customers and employees. We need these moments now more than ever.

How to Own the Room by Viv Groskop

Hands up if you’ve forgotten how to present to a room rather than a Zoom? We’re sure we’re not alone in this! So now is a great time to read this gem which is packed full of exercises you can try out to perfect your public speaking game, plus lots of examples from the best of the best. Even if you’re not going to be speaking to a huge audience any time soon, this one is good for upping your communication generally too, whether online or not. Viv also has a brilliant podcast on the same name where she speaks to amazing speakers and gleans their top tips for owning the room.

About the author

Nat is one of two co-founders at The Future Kind Collective which exists to build a world that is kinder, fairer and more creative, where all people have the opportunity to do great things.

Nat is a purpose-driven strategist, empathetic people leader, designer of cultures, services and companies. She is passionate about lifetime learning, compassionate leadership and inclusive cultures.

Nat started her career in digital strategy, where she applied service design to the strategic development of the NatWest mobile banking app. In 2016, she joined SPARCK, a design consultancy, as their third employee, where she was influential in shaping and growing it into a mature organisation.

Throughout her consultancy career, Nat has led projects with varied clients including Insights, Amnesty International, BP, Vocalink (of MasterCard), DVSA, Fidelity, HSBC, ITV and Pizza Hut.

About The Future Kind Collective

The Future Kind Collective is a purpose-driven consultancy which exists to build a world that is kinder, fairer and more creative, where all people have the opportunity to do great things.

We help start-ups and scale-ups to define their purpose, design their culture and grow their impact, while also embedding the skills they need to unlock their power.

We’re here to challenge the existing consultancy model and prove that by putting people and purpose first, you can create businesses that are more profitable, impactful and equitable.

To find out more or to chat over a challenge you’re grappling with, get in touch at hello@thefuturekind.co

We’d love to hear from you!



Natalie Pearce
The Future Kind Collective

〰️ Co-founder: The Future Kind Collective 〰️ We help companies to grow faster by defining their purpose, designing their culture and growing their impact