"After lockdown we so looked forward to our first retreat, and had a great time, but then we went back to work and it didn't feel like anything had changed."
Someone raised this lament on a call last week, organised by the brilliant Bureau of Digital, with a group of agency leaders discussing culture and how to nurture it when we've all been apart so long.
My answer was that culture is like fitness. If you had a year of not doing any exercise and eating poorly, then you had one day when you went running like crazy and did 100 push ups — you wouldn't expect to be a top athlete a few days later.
Fitness builds up over time, through a regular routine of exercise and healthy diet. It's the same with culture.
So there are no quick fixes, I'm afraid, to rebuilding those connections that have been weakened during the peaks of the pandemic. Don't be disheartened when getting people back together doesn't put everything back to normal. As a leader it's your role to coach people through getting back to full fitness over a period of months of regular practice.
It'll happen, but not overnight.
We published the latest edition of the Convivio Agency Leaders podcast. Listen and subscribe on our site, or search for 'Convivio Agency' in your favourite podcast app.
Over at Agency Radar we published an in-depth report for subscribers on what agencies can learn from high-growth tech startups about having a board to provide strategic oversight and help steer the company without undermining the pace and power of a founder. It's for subscribers only, but non-subscribers can see a preview of some of the report.