If the transition to WFH wasn’t challenging enough, the transition back to the office may prove even more difficult. Our brains will be looking for familiar routines to “return” to that simply won’t be there. And when that happens, our brains will have to expend extra energy to adjust on the fly. This transition will invite us all to bring the best versions of ourselves back to the office and reveal how the pandemic made us even stronger. Knowing that, your role as the team’s leader is uniquely important in helping others traverse this with hope, kindness, and patience to make sure those are the versions that actually show up. Setting aside the things that are out of your control, the author presents six things you can do to ease everyone’s transition to whatever your company’s version of “next” looks like.
If you’re anxious about how your team is going to navigate the transition to whatever form of in-person work your company is planning, you aren’t alone. By now, you’re likely aware that most employees don’t want to return to whatever normal looked like pre-pandemic. A recent survey from Harvard Business School of 1,500 employees revealed that 81% of them either don’t want to come back at all or would prefer a hybrid model of work. Of those, 27% hope to remain working remotely full time, while 61% would prefer to work from home two to three days a week. Only 18% want to return to in-person work full time. While those percentages might vary among your team, it’s fair to expect that the vast majority of your employees won’t be cheering when your organization announces its expectations for a return to the office.
So, as a leader, how do you keep your team motivated and engaged during your company’s transition? Of course, some of that will be determined by factors outside of your control, like the degree of flexibility your organization is offering. But the more say employees have over their work structure, the less resistance they’ll feel to the transition. Setting aside the things that are out of your hands, here are a few things you can do to ease everyone’s transition to whatever your company’s version of “next” looks like.
Be transparent without being a victim.
When the level of flexibility you’re able to offer employees doesn’t match their expectations, listen to their concerns and disappointment with empathy. Be as transparent as you can about the organization’s reasoning behind the policies being put in place. Never respond with a