Although it may seem inappropriate to talk to your colleagues about your university years or your awful former boss, nostalgia may actually be a vital tool for creating stronger, more connected teams.
The word ‘nostalgia’ likely conjures that warm, fuzzy feeling you get watching old home movies, listening to a 90s alt-rock playlist on Spotify or seeing butterfly clips and bell-bottom jeans reappear on store shelves. It’s defined as a wistful kind of longing for another time in your life.
And, although work may not be the first place you think about when you’re wistful, there’s plenty of nostalgia in the workplace, too. Think about that time you bonded with a colleague over a memory of a funny moment in a client presentation, or even a former boss’s outburst that left everyone stunned. Sure, the feeling you get reminiscing about past events in the workplace may not be the same kind of warm-fuzzy you get as remembering the first time you sat on an inflatable chair or listened to the Spice Girls. But the underlying emotions may be just as powerful.
According to Clay Routledge, a professor of management at North Dakota State University, US, research shows nostalgia can be a useful tool, a source of both comfort and inspiration, that can help people navigate tough career moments and motivate them to do their best work. Plus, even more importantly, nostalgia can go a long way toward bringing people together, creating the kinds of organisations with strong bonds that go on to be more successful.