Many businesses are entering a new world as they start to go back into the office vs. working from home (WFH). It’s amazing to think only a few months ago we were in our normal work routines and how quickly COVID-19 changed things. Many everyday things we took for granted were turned upside down and given a good shake.
As many of you are in the process of going back into the office, consider some of the following options to help smooth the transition: 1) alternating employees in the office on certain days of the week, 2) doing a 1 st and 2 nd shift to lower the number of employees in the office at one time, 3) allowing employees to WFH indefinitely with no return to work date, or 4) having employees volunteer as to whether they want to continue to WFH or not depending on their role and other factors.
For many the post-pandemic workplace may look different. Here are a few things leaders should think through very carefully as they decide what the workplace will look like in the new normal:
Culture is King: If you’re the CEO/owner and have done things well, you have created a great culture built around great mission or purpose statement, and a set of strongly entrenched core values. How do you continue to reinforce and utilize your culture as a strategic advantage for your company in the new normal. Remember, the only thing your competitors can’t replicate in their business is your culture. That is your unique value proposition (UVP.) Think about how the new normal will impact your culture, and what you need to do to maintain your culture.
Take care of your employees: Many employees will be very worried about workplace safety and what you are doing to make sure their safety is a top priority. Other employees are done with staying at home and ready to come to work tomorrow if you will let them. Remember, you need to clearly communicate how you are making the workplace safe, and what are you doing to ensure employees are properly screened daily to keep all employees, especially at risk ones safe. This is something you have a moral and legal responsibility to do.
Managing remote employees: Many managers have never managed remote employees before. It is very different and you need to adjust accordingly. Of course, technology like zoom, slack, and IM help here but it’s not the same. It’s easier for top performing employees, but for B & C players it takes a lot more work and feedback to keep them on track. Another big issue is new hires. How do you successfully onboard a new hire when your process probably has many facets built around working in the office. How do you also get them entrenched into your culture when they barely see you along with other employees?
Making the workplace a fun place: Last and perhaps most importantly, how do you make the “workplace” fun? Studies show we spend most of our waking hours at work and in many cases, remote employees work more hours than less and don’t know when to power down for the evening. Creating an engaged, collaborative and fun workplace when all or some percent of your workforce is rarely seen in the office is another issue that will take effort and consideration. Creating your company culture could have taken years to build, but it could totally collapse in just a short time unless you are extremely intentional about how you will keep your culture, mission and core values alive and well. A strong mission and core values will do fine if they are strongly embedded. Maintaining this focus is what makes your company unique and differentiates you from your competition. If it is superficial or cosmetic with a generic mission statement and canned core values you Googled, this will not be sustainable for the long-term.
If you need our help in working through some of the points addressed above, give us a shout. We’d love to partner with you through these issues.