Back in March, businesses rushed to create a temporary solution to slow the spread of Covid-19.  No one predicted that we would still be dealing with the pandemic and continuing to have remote teams as we approach 2021.  The approval and rollout of vaccines gives us some hope of a return to our traditional work lives – or does it? It’s time to make a plan for 2021.

It is very likely that most businesses will not return to the workplace as it was a year ago.  Attitudes about the effectiveness of remote teams have changed.  Many employees have embraced the work from home model.  Research has shown that the majority of people polled would like to have the option to work from home at least part of the time.

As a business leader, you will need to continue to adapt in order to retain and attract top talent.  Now is the time to plan for a post-pandemic environment.  Offering a combination of working in the office and working from home is one key action. Set clear expectations of when employees should be in the office, and when it would be optional. Whatever your policy is, apply it to everyone equally.  If you make exceptions it is no longer a policy, it is merely a suggestion.

In the office, you will need to accommodate your employees’ health and safety concerns. This may include cleaning protocols, spacing of workstations, and limiting large gatherings.  Be mindful of privacy when discussing employee concerns.

Whether employees are in the office or working remotely, leverage the use of technology.  It should be a seamless transition for someone to log in and work from home one day, the office the next day.  It is the responsibility of the employee to communicate when and where they are working and to seek approval. The focus for you as the manager should be on outcomes, not location or activity.

There is no doubt that there are advantages to in-person communication and collaboration.  Innovation often starts with a casual conversation, often in the hallway or the break room. We have also seen the gains in productivity from uninterrupted remote workers, and the job satisfaction from flexible scheduling. Given what we have learned, there is a tremendous opportunity for those businesses who show empathy and flexibility as they build a new normal for 2021.

Not sure what to do? Contact me for a Leadership Planning Session.


Author: Sandy Merritt