How ready are you and your team to return to the office?
As many organisations across Australia look to transition back into the office after this year’s most recent lockdown, there’s a lot to consider – possibly even more so than the first time around. So, as you think about heading back to the office in the next few weeks, take some time to think deeply about the process.
How ready are you as the leader?
As the leader of your team, what you’re doing will set the tone for the rest of your team. If you are telling your team they can work flexibly but you continue to show up to the office every day, you’re sending a message that perhaps the working arrangements aren’t as flexible as they may think. Ultimately, your example and communication will show your team what’s expected of them.
Whatever the expectations in your organisation, it should all come down to clear communication so that every team member understands what is expected of them and knows how to navigate the transition for themselves as well as for the good of the team. Be open, honest and transparent in how you need them to approach work in this tricky time.
How do your team members feel?
Lockdowns and various restrictions have been difficult to navigate and each individual will have had their own struggles and unique circumstances. Whether it’s homeschooling children, taking care of elderly and other vulnerable family members, experiencing the anxiety of becoming a close contact and subsequent isolation or a million other things, everyone has had a lot on their minds.
Coming back to the office isn’t going to be simple for everyone and some people might not be okay throughout the process. Leaders can help their team to make the transition by simply listening and understanding the pressures that might be on them in their personal lives to understand what they might be dealing with outside of the workplace.
Know the plan
One important part of honest, clear communication is knowing the ‘return-to-work’ plan and the ongoing flexible working options. Whether you have your own tailor-made plan for your team or you’re simply localising an organisation-wide plan, it’s important to make it clear to your team.
Regardless of whether different members of your team are returning to the office, or continuing to work from home or adopting a hybrid approach, it’s crucial that everyone is on the same page. Ensure that each team member knows what is expected of them and is aware of the tools available to them to make their working lives easier. A team-wide understanding of the role that technology – including programs like Microsoft Teams and Zoom – plays in keeping the team connected and collaborative is essential for a smooth transition.
Don’t think it’s over
If we’ve learnt anything from the last two years, it’s that this pandemic isn’t over until it’s over. Despite high vaccination rates and a confidence in a roadmap towards ‘freedom’, it’s clear that organisations can expect ongoing disruption for some time. Returning to the office and some semblance of ‘normalcy’ is not some magic cure for the global situation.
Individuals, too, may not be ready to come back. Leaders should be on the lookout for unusual behaviours as this transition takes place – and for many months afterwards – and be ready to support their team in tough times, just as they have for the past two years.
Are you ready to help your team transition back to the office? People Make the Difference can help. To find out more, visit www.pmtd.com.au or call us on 0412 333 415. Try our online leadership training videos – $99 for complete access. Great value if you’re committed to growing your leadership potential.