Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the US economy has been put on pause. But soon, as stay at home orders expire and states continue to flatten – or in some cases, crush – the curve, parts of the economy will begin to reopen.
Though we will likely never return to life before the pandemic, slowly, people will begin to reemerge, offices will reopen, restaurants will fill up, and the economy will start-up once again. When that day comes, workplaces will have to adapt to new public health standards, as well as a variety of others changes to daily life.
As CEO of Spectrum Business Ventures, I’ve been using this time to think about how I can help my team ease back into working from the office.
Here are some principles that have guided my decision making on this matter.
The most important trait employers can demonstrate during this tricky time is patience.
Most of your employees haven’t been in the office since early March. While many may have initially struggled to develop an efficient ‘work from home’ routine, by now most of employees have fully adjusted to working remotely.
Although many have started to get settled, they are now set to face the second major disruption to their daily routines in just as many months. Just as they’ve started to get used to these new routines, things will once again be turned upside down.
I urge managers to give employees the benefit of the doubt during their first few weeks back. Some have suffered immense hardship over the last two months, losing income and – God forbid – loved ones. Be an ally, not an adversary, as they ease back into traditional office life.
Transitioning from working in an office building to a living room in the span of just a few days forced businesses to become nimble and flexible. Companies had to adapt on the fly, developing new procedures and techniques remotely. It is imperative not to let that innovation go to waste.
As your team starts to return to the office, think about ways you can parlay that ingenuity into your business model. If your team can quickly adapt to accommodate a pandemic, surely it can do the same for a client or for new verticals.
In many ways, this strategy also helps to prepare your team for the unknown.
Doctors and health officials are warning that there could be a second wave of COVID-19 infections this upcoming fall or winter. As with this past March, there’s a very real possibility that your team could once again need to transition to remote work in the span of a few days. Staying nimble and adaptable will help keep your team
So many parts of life will change in the coming months. What employees, clients, and business partners need now, more than ever, is flexibility and understanding.
We are facing one of the most complex challenges of our lifetime. And now, everybody’s scrambling for answers. You can rise above the fear by demonstrating confidence and stability, while practicing empathy, flexibility, and understanding with all those facing uncertainty. Afterall, if the coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we are truly all in this together.