24 June 2020 - John Kerr

A Considered Return to the (Physical) Office

Vacating our offices for lockdown certainly had its challenges but that was the easy bit compared to coming back.  It's not just the physical preparations that are required but also bringing your team along with you on this journey to our new normal.

Read our Tip Sheet prepared in association with Spectrum.Life for some useful guidance on how to prepare to transition back.

It has been a whirlwind few months in relation to emergency remote work and with the relaxing of regulations in various countries, some companies are beginning to plan the phased return to the physical office.  However, unlike the shock of being thrown into the deep end of COVID-19, this transition back will be different. There is notice. There is more time to plan. In most cases it can be a staged process, so how should this be approached, what is needed in terms of planning and preparation?

In this Tip Sheet, Spectrum.Life remote working expert, Rowena Hennigan shares some tips to help you plan your approach in the coming weeks.

 Take the time needed to transition back

The return to the physical office will be in stages so take the time needed to plan for the change. The difference in the transition back to the office as COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed, is that there is more time to prepare. Take the time needed to process the recent months, be intentional, both on an individual, manager and corporate level prior to rushing towards the newest state of change.

Build in that time to reflect and process the recent period

Many individuals were left reeling during the period of crisis response. Therefore, many will welcome the opportunity to discuss openly recent times, successes and challenges. Enabling these conversations will also highlight positives and operational improvements from remote working, which can be built upon.

 Continued Empathy and Understanding

Considering the above, fatigue has set in. Many individuals are craving holidays or a break from the tough routine of the recent period, which was compounded by the stresses in the external environment as a result of the pandemic. A reminder to managers and leaders to extend their expression of empathy and understanding to their teams. Enabling the supports needed and encouraging work-life balance where possible.

Lessons learned and celebrate success

Conduct a formal review of operational processes during the working from home period, documenting successes and challenges. This will provide the foundation for planning for the transition back to the office and the hybrid model.  Another way of doing this exercise is to do a retrospective on a specific project or project phase with the relevant team members involved. A “snapshot” review analysis, will enable a better view of what did and didn’t work during the period. Also on an individual level, encourage workers to assess learnings gained during the period. Of course, celebrate the success, take the time to acknowledge what has worked and celebrate it!

Wellbeing is still paramount

One thing is certain over these coming months, change will be a constant again for the foreseeable. Continuing to emphasise the importance of well-being, will bolster this.