Are You Ready to Head Back to the Office?
July 16, 2020
As states begin to open back up, many businesses are starting to call employees back to work. It’s essential that workplaces take the time to create safe and healthy ‘return to office’ procedures. If this sounds familiar, we hope your organization is following all the necessary guidelines for safety at work, creating social distance policies, temperature checks, sanitation stations, establishing staggered work shifts and flexible work schedules, and much more.
Supporting remote workers at home and as they safely transition back to the office is a topic we care deeply about. But even as offices make their workspace as safe as possible, it’s important for leaders to recognize the collective trauma we’ve all faced — and in many cases are still facing — as we attempt to return to normalcy.
Good news is that the skills leaders need to lead a virtual team are the same skills needed for this transition. So, brush up on those emotional intelligence and empathy skills, and keep the following factors in mind as you and your team return to work:
- Ask and listen — It’s impossible to know all the challenges and fears your team is facing in returning to the office. Gauge their comfort level by conducting a pulse survey, or schedule one-on-ones to understand their concerns and challenges on returning to work.
- Meet your people where they are — Consider the changes in your teammates’ personal lives. Many are caretakers, have very young children or school-age kids who need home-school support; many are living with essential workers, live with a high-risk or immune-compromised person, or caring for elderly parents. Maybe they rely on public transportation or they are just dealing with the major upheaval of living through these uncertain times. Be patient.
- Remember that safety is #1 — Safety includes mental health too. Make sure your team members know the resources available to them for both their physical well-being and mental well-being.
- Define what the new workplace looks like — Your office will not be the same. Create new rules not just around social distancing and sanitation, but also the new definition of what the “office” will look like. Is it the place where you come together as a team once or twice a week? Do you need to stagger “on-site” times? Do you need a reservation system for access to shared resources? Rethink what the office will be in a way that works for your team.
- Take it slow — Create a phased approach for returning to the office. Make the best plan you can and evaluate it frequently. Take it slow and be flexible. Adjust on the fly if necessary. Don’t stick to a plan that’s not working.
- Communicate often — Ensure your teams know what is expected of them and what resources are available as they adjust and transition. In a time of increased uncertainty, providing frequent clear communications–and the reasoning behind decisions–is another way to help people feel safe.
This pandemic looks to be a marathon, not a sprint. We will get through this difficult time together by keeping the health and well-being of our employees at the center of our decision-making. If you are a leader, or you know a leader, who would benefit from an empathy and emotional intelligence refresher, we can help. Contact us at https://www.powersresourcecenter.com/lets-connect/