Going Back to the Office: Here Is What Leaders Should Do

Going Back to the Office: Here Is What Leaders Should Do


You aren’t alone if you’re concerned about how your team will manage the shift to whatever sort of in-person work your firm is planning. You may be aware that most workers don’t want to return to whatever the previous normal form looked like before the pandemic.

As per a recent survey, 82% of employees either don’t want to return or prefer a hybrid work arrangement. Of these, 28% want to continue working remotely full-time, while 60% want to work from home two to three days each week. Only 19% of respondents want to return to full-time in-person employment. While these percentages may vary from team to team, it’s fair to expect that the bulk of your staff won’t be happy when your organisation announces its requirements for a return to the office.

Being a manager, what can you do to keep your employees motivated and engaged during your organisation’s transition? Of course, some of it will be out of your hands, for example, the degree of adaptability available to your company.

The more control you give to employees over their work structure, the less resistance they’ll encounter to a change. Set aside those things beyond your control for now; here are some things you can do to make everyone’s transition easier irrespective of what your future workplace looks like.

Let’s look at how leaders can ease everyone’s transition into the workplace-

Top 6 return to work strategies to lead your time after the COVID-19 pandemic

1. Try to balance the different needs of your team

Try to balance the different needs of your team


If you have some control over implementing WFH policies on your team, you’ll need to figure out how to apply them in certain circumstances without being discriminatory.

After a long separation, regaining cohesion is critical, so you don’t want to start with some people being dissatisfied because you’re giving others more flexibility. If you have the opportunity, involve your employees in determining how best to utilise the discretion you’re given.

Each team member should state their requirements and preferences within the constraints of what’s permissible, and you should figure out the ways to balance them. Single parents, for example, may have very different requirements for flexibility than those looking after ageing parents.

Encourage your employees to establish new work habits that everyone follows for “where” and “when” work gets done. For example, make sure all meetings include video links so that those who are working from home can also participate.

For big meetings, have everyone join via their computer, regardless of whether they are at home or in the workplace, to ensure that no one is excluded. People will be far more invested in the solutions they help develop. The creativity they exercise may provide them with a sense of energy and enthusiasm for the change, alleviating any concerns.

2. Ensure transparency in everything you do

Ensure transparency in everything you do


When the degree of flexibility you can provide your staff doesn’t live up to their expectations, pay attention to their complaints and dissatisfaction. Make yourself as open and honest as possible regarding the organisation’s decision to implement new policies and rules.

Whatever you do, don’t respond with something like, “Sorry, but it’s out of my hands,” since this suggests defensiveness and helplessness, which will most certainly aggravate the situation. Prepare for the unavoidable issues early on and communicate regularly.

It is also possible that you may be answering the same questions over and over, or you might be expected to give answers for which there are no good responses. Learning to provide honest answers will be necessary for demonstrating effective leadership.

Proactively let people know when you hear about any potential changes, and explain what you’re doing to stay informed on their behalf. You can avoid any potential roadblocks to an already difficult transition by managing others’ expectations effectively.

3. Allow individuals to grieve in privacy

Allow individuals to grieve in privacy


For many employees, regardless of how much flexibility you provide, the move from WFH might be more traumatic than simply losing control over their time. Some people lost family members to Covid-19 without having an opportunity to say goodbye. Others rediscovered their ties with life partners and developed a newfound closeness with their children.

Nonetheless, others might have created the routines they used to enjoy, and now they will be changed. Allow individuals space to mourn over the loss that the past season might have given them, no matter how positive your workplace may look.

Grief can manifest itself in various ways. For example, some can go unusually quiet. Some may become teary after hearing about a coworker’s family. If you give individuals the space to let go of what these last 18 months have been, you’ll be able to help them embrace the ‘new normal’ you’re asking them to help create.

4. Allow your employees to maintain a balance between work and life

Allow your employees to maintain a balance between work and life


You should allow your employees to maintain a balance between work and life. This will help them be more effective and efficient at work. A bad day at home may profoundly affect an employee’s productivity. Yet, they can still push through because of their dedication to their job. For this reason, it’s vital that managers ensure their employees have a work-life balance.

While it may look like common sense, many organisations fail when it comes down to cultivating meaningful relationships with their employees or realizing what is essential for them to be productive and creative.

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5. Be the reason for your team’s happiness

Be the reason for your team’s happiness


If everyone in your office is cheerful and positive, it will make for a much more enjoyable working environment. At least once a day, take five minutes to ask people about their weekend and why they’re excited about what’s coming up on Monday. This can be anything from actual excitement over projects to looking forward to after-work drinks with friends or family members.

What you say doesn’t matter — just make sure you keep things upbeat throughout your day, especially when it comes time for all-hands meetings or project update calls. When it’s challenging to come up with something exciting, just focus on details around an upcoming event you know everyone is eager for (such as an annual holiday party).

The goal of these events isn’t simply to entertain employees; they also help generate camaraderie between team members. When coworkers get together outside of work hours, they tend to become better friends both at work and away from it.

6. Don’t burden employees with ambiguity

Don’t burden employees with ambiguity


Always be honest with yourself about your challenges in getting back to work. You’ll have to adjust as well and quite possibly have conflicting thoughts about what you’re giving up. Take care not to overdo it; however, being vulnerable with your teammates about personal issues can create stronger connections.

As a manager, note the distinction between saying, “I completely comprehend how returning affects you as a parent,” and stating, “Believe me, I understand how much coming back sucks. If I didn’t have to return, I wouldn’t either!” Consider hiring a coach or a close confidant if you need somewhere to vent. But, for the sake of your team, keep in mind that they’re following your lead.

Closing Thoughts

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a massive tragedy for many of us. Some organizations are still reeling under its effects, but others have returned back to work and begun their normal routines. But how does one lead after such trauma? We’ve compiled six ideas you can try out at your company to help your team feel safe again as they move forward with life’s daily tasks.

You can try an AI-powered workforce management software that allows leaders to quickly see who is working from home and how many hours they have worked, making it easier to keep track of remote employees.

Request a demo of the best workforce management software today to learn more about how it can help make the transition back to work easier both for you and your team.

Do you know of any other ways that are effective in leading teams through difficult times? Please share them below!

Thanks for reading!



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