Nostalgia may be a vital tool

Nostalgia can be defined as a longing for an experience of another time in your life. The workplace holds many memories - you may have bonded with a colleague over a funny incident in a client presentation or an outburst from your former boss.

The feelings may not be the same warm feeling as other nostalgic moments, but the underlying emotions are just as strong. Research found nostalgia can be a tool for comfort and inspiration and can draw people together in strong bonds.

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How nostalgia makes you work better

bbc.com

The past events we find personally meaningful are shared with those we care about. Nostalgia can bring a diverse group of people together, such as the workplace.

  • It can promote inclusivity in a work team.
  • It can help us empathise, and make people more open and tolerant.
  • Nostalgia can also be based on overcoming challenging situations.

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In the workplace, nostalgia reflecting on earlier wins in one's career can be inspirational as well as remembering the challenges that have been mastered.

  • Research shows that nostalgia can increase creativity. When nostalgia makes people feel connected, they are more likely to act confidently and take risks with their work.
  • But nostalgia can also have a dark side. It can leave people stuck in the past, especially those who are afraid of change.

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Working from home has decreased opportunities to connect with colleagues. It is a problem companies must solve. It could mean embracing nostalgia and creating conditions to make future nostalgia.

Tactics that might be usable in a workplace to evoke nostalgia:

  • Encouraging teams to contribute songs to shared playlists.
  • Using the start of a meeting for employees to tell a story or share a memory.

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