Burnout. Isolation. Exhaustion. Lack of passion for the company's purpose. Every day it's another headline about how the pandemic-induced remote working environment has decimated once vibrant company cultures.

Yet employees are comfortable working remotely, with 76 percent not wanting to return to the office. And after two years of remote productivity, it makes sense (and pundits are telling us) that we can't expect people to return to the way things were pre-pandemic. But being productive and being effective, energized, and fulfilled aren't the same thing.

This work-from-home experience has also led to loneliness and isolation increasing by 30 percent as real-life interactions have been replaced with screens. We're missing the in-person social interactions that we know boost mental health and are the most consistent predictor of a healthy, happy life. At work, these vital interactions create a collaborative environment that drives productivity.

Not to mention the way screens are messing with our eyes. Not just in the you-need-glasses kind of way, but our eyes aren't actually designed for such a tunnel vision experience. In an in-person setting, our eyes move around, looking off at the wall or at our colleagues, to take in multiple peripheral images at once. When looking at a computer screen they're frozen in place, leading to feelings of burnout from no visual break.

So as remote work stands today, it's unsustainable for the health of employees and company culture. Work will never be what it was before. We now have to find a rhythm that allows for flexibility and cultivates strong company culture.

But where do we go from here? As leaders, it's hard to know where step one is in rebuilding a thriving workforce. I see that many of my teammates are exhausted, and yet the reality is we can't pause or stand still with the onslaught of day-to-day business pressures and deliverables.

When you think back on your best pre-pandemic work experience, what comes to mind? I'm willing to bet it involves the fun dynamics of teamwork--laughter that comes with shared moments in a conference room, lunch with a colleague, post-work pickup basketball, or even team karaoke.

Science tells us these moments of real human interaction are the greatest antidote to feelings of burnout and isolation. And if you're guided by the science of human performance, then you know that a return to social connection, team building, and fun is the greatest way to develop thriving individuals and cultures--and it's the path forward.

But this doesn't mean workers are going to jump back into the office. Think about your own history with office-based work. I remember those pre-pandemic years of emotion-filled Sunday nights. It was the inevitable shift from freedom to being on the clock, constrained by alarms and train schedules. All in all, it was a negative emotional experience that reran weekly.

Next, think about what it's like going on vacation. Waking up to an early alarm is no longer negative because you're anticipating the fun of a flight to your version of paradise.

Now what if we could make days in the office the fun part of the week, complete with pre-vacay level glee? The most satisfying part of work doesn't have to be the freedom of home, with the office being the grind zone.

This new way of working and thinking is on us. Instead of giving into the mountain of articles telling us the next generation is shunning office time, it's on us to make the in-person experience everything it should be--exciting, fulfilling, and valuable. Our employees' health and happiness depend on it.

So as you think about your future-of-work strategy, start by being intentional about your office-based programming. Beyond the obvious brainstorming and collaboration sessions, how can you build fun extracurricular activities that deepen trust and connection?

It's going to take an investment in new activities and modeling how time in the office should be spent. If you're a leader that's coming in with nonstop one-to-one meetings that leave you sprinting out the door, you can be sure that your teammates will interpret this as the office being for checking the box on face-to-face time.

If you balance meetings while prioritizing the lunchtime bowling team, chances are your teammates will do the same. And the benefits for all will be deeper friendships, connection to the company, and ultimately a reduction in burnout. While there's a lot we don't know about the new norms that will make up the future of work, we do have the opportunity as leaders to shape them. Let's work hard and play hard, but most important let's prioritize how we do it together.

As we say at my workplace, greatness is a team sport.