Monday, May 10, 2021

What Bosses Need to Do Now for Teams Moving Back to the Office

Some people are anxious to get  back to the office and leave behind the days of working at their kitchen tables in their pajamas.

But others are more concerned -- they still worry about COVID-19 transmission, they're unsure how they'll handle childcare or school situations with their children or they simply don't want to return to the hassle of a commute.

Bosses need to deal with these concerns sooner rather than later. By letting employees wonder about what's going to happen with their work arrangements, teams aren't going to be able to function effectively.

Here's some things bosses can do now as change work arrangements evolve:

  • Talk about successes. Call the team together through a Zoom call and remind them how resilient they've become. Talk about how challenges over the last year were addressed not by panicking, but by working together to come up with innovative ideas and solutions. 
  • Let them express concerns. This is best done individually if possible, but if not, hold a virtual meeting that lets employees list all the things that could be holding them back. Once they unpack all their fears or concerns, then bosses have a better handle on how they can work with the employee to find solutions or offer support as needed.
  • Show compassion. As employees become more comfortable with the idea of returning to the office -- or working part-time from home -- the boss needs to show the rest of the team how to behave moving forward. A boss who shows empathy sets the tone for the rest of the team not to be judgmental about someone else's situation or dismiss someone's anxieties as unfounded.
There is no doubt that moving employees back to the office -- or letting some continue to work from home -- will be a big challenge for bosses. But setting the right tone will be critical not only to help employees make that shift, but also in establishing team cohesiveness and resilience in the long run.

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