Coming back to the office?

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I speak to many friends and colleagues about how we envisage coming back to the office or do we even envisage coming back at all after the pandemic. To some the flexibility offered by working from home is so enticing they struggle now to give it up.

However, in all that uncertainty one thing is certain – in most cases, it is not up to us to make a decision on how are we going to work in the future. This doesn’t make it easier though for all the management who will now need to somehow request their colleagues to come back to the office.

Here are my few #acechange tips that hopefully unravel some of the questions you may have if you currently are in this situation:

  • First of all, realise that the ‘new normal’ will be different from what you are accustomed to. It might be worth describing ‘how different’ it actually is.
  • Secondly, realise that bringing people back to the office is a project on its own. I am not only talking about making sure your office spaces meet any new plans for maintaining social distancing – I want you to realise that now is the time to focus on people.
  • Remember that safety and security is a basic need for every one of us. How are you prepared to ensure people’s psychological and physical safety is met?
  • Starting something new is a process that will take time. To make it work you need to ensure people want to commit to its success, so focus now on:

Purpose – explain why you have taken this decision and back it up with relevant data to avoid the spread of false or misleading information.

Picture – show your staff how will their ‘new normal’ look like. It is important that you engage their imagination, so they can imagine themselves in the office after they are asked to come back in.

Plan – share with them your plan, milestones and share the good news. Be transparent all the way through.

Part to play – how do you expect them to behave? What do they need to do? How can they help? After all, for the first time in a very long time we actually are in this together, so make sure your colleagues are involved in the process.

  • And lastly and most importantly – show them that you care by leading the way!

It is going to be very different from what we have used to, but I would love to know how are you feeling about all this? Is that practical advice useful? Did you come up with better ideas that would help our colleagues across the industries? How are you planning to tackle this?