“Don’t Return to the Office for Your Boss. Go Back to Yourself.” That’s the online version’s title of a New York Times opinion piece (August 6, 2022) by Edith Cooper in which she shares a question a potential employee asked her during an interview: 

“Can I bring my whole self to work?”  

That question correlates with our concept of “self-awareness trust,” which is one of our six dimensions of trust. The other five are (i) trusting, (ii) trustworthiness, (iii) trust relationships, (iv) trust structures, and (vi) systemic trust. See our book, Making Trust Happen! 

In our blog “Making Self-Awareness-Based Trust Happen,” we write:

Self-trust is an “awareness” concept of “trust.” When I’m self-trusting, I’m engaging in practices that deepen my understanding of who I am. Also, I’ve expanded my insight of who or what I’m not. I know what it means to be authentic. I show up with “agency.”

Our model distinguishes between “self-trusting” and “trusting.”  We note that:

When I’m “trusting,” I’m willing and able to share my vulnerabilities, which takes the form of “sharing personal stories” with co-workers. “Trusting” is about getting to know one another.

On the other hand, “self-trusting”

focuses on getting to know our selves and showing up as ourselves in the workplace.

When it comes to “self-trust,” Think: Agency and Authenticity. We’re showing up for ourselves, others, and our world. 

“Can I bring my whole self to work?”

That question resonates with Cooper because she feels that young employees can benefit from returning to the office at least some days and that they will feel like returning if the structure of the office culture is inviting. “Inclusivity needs to be intentional,” according to her.

In our model, “trust structure” is an “alignment-based trust.” If organizational-based trust is present, the work expectations of the employees and those of the organization align, and there is a mutual desire for employees to remain a part of the organization. Here think: Individual & Organizational Purpose Alignment.

Here’s what Cooper has to say about “structure.”

Hybrid models should not create new hierarchies that place a premium on in-person face time, and companies must create working experiences that give people real reasons to commute. Those might include meaningful opportunities to socialize and celebrate wins, well-designed facilities and a welcoming work culture. Some companies are experimenting with ways to reshape the office experience for the hybrid era, creating new systems for meetings that don’t exclude remote workers, or even looking into installing video conferencing screens in office kitchens to allow those working from home to engage in small talk and “water cooler chats.”

When we “make trust happen” in the workplace, we’ll find strengthened relationships, reduced second-guessing, and “ease of being” permeating our workspaces and lives. 

And, yes. We can bring our whole self to work.