Transitioning back to the Office!

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There will be a life after lockdown. The moment will arrive when we finally emerge from the shelter of home and make our way back to the office. After such a long period in isolation and having adjusted to the new ways of working, reverting back to our old routines within a new world of uncertainty may suddenly feel unsettling.

Instead of succumbing to uneasiness and anxiety, we should embrace this as a chance to check and reevaluate; to look at the way we work and how we can reflect on the lockdown experience to improve our workflows. Some simple questions will help us to gain focus upon re-entry.

The first one is the most obvious. How do you and your company prepare for the return to the office? Have you taken measures to face the reality of office work again? The transition back to normalcy may be less smooth thant the transition into the home office. Employees will have developed habits that might be fitting for working from home but not for the office.

Ask your employees about it. Collect data on and analyze new behavioural patterns. Which ones should we keep and; which ones will create better workflow in the office? What were the advantages and disadvantages of working from home? Feel your organization’s pulse!

Find out which employees are looking forward to working in the office again, who is reluctant and why; How can you direct this energy? How can you capture and ride the momentum of the new beginning spirit? Take a look at your organigram and assess whether continued (albeit less frequent than now) home-office working could benefit your employees’ effectiveness.

Mandatory on-site presence is a thing of the past!; Slogans like this can be used to mobilize your employees. Find new ways to channel and enhance the output power of your workforce by devising new work patterns in and out of the office.

Health issues and related concerns will become a significant issue in the future. Now that everyone is aware of how the chain of infection runs, every cold and flu will be perceived with scepticism. How are you preparing to deal with this?

Some of your employees may wish to remain working from home post-lockdown for health and -safety reasons. The fear of becoming infected with Coronavirus, particularly amongst high-risk groups, or the fear of infecting others is very real. Are you verifying your employees’ frame of mind before returning to the 'old routine'? Are you ready and willing to adapt to take such concerns (and opportunities) into consideration?

Working in a lockdown scenario may have also enhanced behavioral patterns of those susceptible to social anxiety and “lone-wolf” tendencies. Be prepared to face these challenges and to incorporate them into your new workflows. Be mindful of worries about seemingly trivial things in everyday life such as, running an air-conditioning unit and the proximity of workstations. Now is the time to address these challenges.

For the above reasons, make sure to survey your employees beforehand on how they are feeling about coming back and what their wishes are for future working arrangements and environment. Create an outcome- related assessment that will give you insights into the current attitude and state of mind of your employees.

Redecorate the office. Organise the workspace differently. How will you approach your employees with enough time ahead and prepare them for the transition back? Ask for their opinions and suggestions. Listen carefully.

It's time to make the office home again while home stops being the office.

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