Returning to the office, shop, or factory after sheltering in place during the COVID-19 pandemic is a whole new challenge. Leaders and managers must tackle unpredictable events while carefully safeguarding health, well-being, and employee engagement

As HR industry analyst Josh Bersin recently wrote, “We are in the middle of The Big Reset, a new way of thinking about work, life, business, and leadership.” This level of disruption and uncertainty is unlike anything we’ve ever experienced. 

A return-to-work checklist 

As with most difficult situations, effective people-success habits can help smooth the sharp curves and motivate teams for the steep climb ahead.

Here are some specific steps you can follow. This people-centric approach anchors on communication and caring, and provides guidance for every level of your organization. Start where it makes the most sense for your situation.

For CEOs, CHROs, and other leaders

  • Communicate transparently about your strategy to re-open the workplace.
  • Understand the larger themes employees are expressing about returning to the workplace, and tailor plans to support them. For example, increase communications and let employees know you’ll be seeking their feedback regularly throughout the transition to provide assistance.
  • Help managers understand that they should focus more on the meaningful impact of work rather than time in the office. Empower them with flexible work arrangements as appropriate, given the needs of the individual and the organization.

For managers and team leads

  • Know your organization’s policies and procedures around returning to the workplace.
  • Check in with each person on your team about what you or the team can do to help them.
  • Be aware of and support different responses that employees will have about returning to work. Some may be eager to get back into their routine, some may be fearful about health concerns, others will be dealing with family-care challenges.
  • Make a commitment to following up on feedback—action is important to show employees that their input is valued. Check in regularly to see what’s working, or what needs adjusting.
  • Encourage teammates to support one another. Be a role model for self-care to signal its importance.

For employees

  • Share your perspective on what would make it easier for you to return to the workplace.
  • Surface ideas that can help the organization and your team be more successful during the transition.
  • Check in with teammates regularly to offer compassion and support.

A final tip for everyone

At best, returning to the workplace is likely to be a rocky ride. Before you embark on any important communication or conversation, be sure to check in with yourself. Are you okay? Are you in the right physical and mental condition to have a conversation right now? 

We are all facing the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic together. Your team and colleagues will understand if you need to shift the time. 

Looking for more resources? Glint has toolkits, webinars, and more.