If you’re starting to forget what your workplace looks like—or are concerned you may need GPS to get there—you’re certainly not alone. Arguably, the widespread shift from office-based employment to work from home (WFH) arrangements is one of the most marked aspects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. With the recent, significant progress Americans have collectively made in flattening the coronavirus curve, many companies (like Market Mentors) are planning for the shift back to business as they once knew it—making it a good time to prepare our teams and our mindset.
Here, we offer some tips for a smoother transition back to your familiar ways of working.
Give Employees Advance Notice
You may or may not be planning to reopen as soon as the Governor gives the green light. Or maybe you’ll do a staggered opening. Let your employees know as well in advance as possible, as it’s not as easy as flipping a switch. For example, many parents must figure out how they will care for school-age children who are out of school at least until fall, without the reprieve of summer camps, so they’ll appreciate as much notice as you can provide.
You’ll also want to share any new policies for returning to work that you are instituting so your employees know what to expect and what they have to do. This may include requiring that they wear face masks, follow a social distancing policy or limit face to face meetings. Also, try to address any concerns or anxieties in advance, so everyone will be ready to hit the ground running. Be clear about expectations; this will be an adjustment and challenge for many.
Dust Off Former Routines
Remote employees who don’t normally work from home may have understandably fallen out of their usual daily routines. Encourage them to start preparing now for their return. Some ideas:
- Go through the motions of the morning. Wake up at the time you would on a “normal” workday, and proceed through your daily routine: shower, dress, wake the kids, etc.
- Suit up to power up! The clothes we wear can affect our performance. Have you been working from home in sweats, or even PJs? Make the switch to more professional attire in stages now to get back in the business mindset.
- Dial back your evenings. If you haven’t already, begin to view weeknights as regular “work nights.” Start getting to bed earlier each night, readying your outfit for the next day, and even preparing your lunch.
- As the actual return date approaches, gather and pack any items you had brought home from your workplace, as well as any others you’ll need to bring to work (such as hand sanitizer or a mask).
- School closures and the shift to at-home learning has represented a phenomenal change during these times. It’s never too soon to arrange for childcare or other family support needed. Consider having a family meeting to discuss upcoming shifts in roles and routines.
With all these considerations, it’s natural to have conflicted feelings about the long-anticipated physical return to work. Start examining your mindset and refreshing that team mentality; focus on staying flexible, doing what you can to help employees and co-workers adapt to customers’ and clients’ various needs right now. As cliché as it may sound, collective positivity and commitment are vital to both your own personal success and your company’s.
Since the start of the pandemic, Market Mentors has assisted countless clients in following best practices for crisis communications—what we have dubbed the 7 Cs. More recently, we’ve shared our 6 Rs—smart strategies for preparing to reopen for business. Effective execution requires everyone’s active support. Download our helpful checklist to ensure your facility, staff and communications are ready to go.
As Winston Churchill once said, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” And with that, here’s to new beginnings—and prosperity that knows no end.