Return to Work

BY: CAREY SMITH

The day is coming where we will start the process of working from our offices again.

Have you heard any of these comments?

  • “I don’t feel comfortable going back yet.”
  • “Yes, finally, people! New views!”
  • “I was kind of liking it here, no commute, and ultimate flexibility.”

These comments, albeit more personal due to the individual health risk, aren’t that different from any other change or transformation in life. Think about the next Apple product and the amount of people that line up with excitement for a product not even truly understanding its new features and use. On the contrary, we all know people who resist change regardless of if it’s for the better, and then you have those in the middle that are still figuring it out.

Going back to the office will be yet another transition and the sole goal needs to be ensuring the environment protects and puts the employees’ health and safety at the forefront. Yes, we will all need to accommodate physical distancing, reporting guidelines, but we also need to be prepared to deal with uncharted questions and concerns. We need to be equipped to help employees feel like they are a part of their return to work and a part of the team environment that they once enjoyed. For utmost success, policies, procedures, and programs should be created with the employees so they feel a part of the direction which will in turn help settle some of the nerves.

During this time, what have you learned about what your employees need and want? What do teams need to generate ideas and iterate to get products to market faster? What does your organization need, and has been missing from a performance perspective? A lot of these questions need to come from the central question to Simon Sinek’s narrative, starting with “Why”. Why are we having people return to work when they have shown they can work remotely?

Once you understand the “Why”, leverage this as your North Star. This will help keep communication in check along the way. To help ensure the program’s success, workplace etiquette and/or social contracts are extremely helpful. Setting up Guiding Principles will also be helpful to both structuring the program but to ensure overall theme towards the “Why”.

Your biggest opportunity is your culture! How have you maintained that to this point? What have been some harsh realities during this last year? What are some ah-ha moments you’ve had that show your organization’s resilience? These questions and others will give you cues and clues to help structure your program, consider quick wins, and look for areas to immediately address or avoid.

Whether you’re looking for a helpful hand in creating collateral, a listening ear to brainstorm ideas toward your program’s creation or want to hear best practices as to who is doing what, or other return to work or hybrid working questions, reach out, we’re here to help!