With businesses and venues beginning to open back up for operations in the near future following the COVID-19 stay at home orders, many entrepreneurs are looking to hit the ground running to make up for the time away. After spending several weeks working remotely, however, many business owners may be wondering just how to best transition their teams back to working on site again. Though the nation has proven true perseverance in such an unprecedented time, such a degree of change has never been maneuvered before, leaving many of us anxious to get things back on track quickly (and smoothly) as soon as things are deemed safe for their return. So just how does one go about getting productivity back on track after an extended leave?
Getting Productivity Back on Track
When it comes to getting your business operations back in full swing, it’s not as simple as returning to work and expecting things to magically go back to pre-social distancing mode right away. In fact, things may never get back to the same norm that was experienced before the entire world adapted to the pandemic by implementing work-from-home measures. There will likely be many obstacles and bumps along the way as entrepreneurs attempt to get back in the black and transition their workforce practices back to traditional work environments.
“It’s far from clear quite what normal will look like after COVID-19, but it seems likely that our desire to trek into the office will be tested after a prolonged period of acclimatization towards remote working from both workers and managers alike,” explains Forbes.com.
The best plan of attack for smoothing the transition and getting things going as quickly as possible is to outline a comprehensive yet flexible objective for the process. It’s important to consider the circumstances surrounding not only your business, but your business team, and to maintain a certain level of flexibility as things begin to move from one dynamic to the next. To help, here are 5 tips for helping to get productivity back on track with the return to work nearing:
1 – Create a Phased Plan
With so many unknowns and uncertainties surrounding the phasing out of social distancing, a gradual approach to reopening traditional operations seems the safest choice. Though many may be gearing up to ramp productivity 100% from day one, that may not be the best approach to getting things back on track effectively.
It’s important to create a phased plan that will account for the difficulties your team members and clients have been dealing with during social distancing. With so many demands on them to adjust to working from home, the best plan for returning will likely be in smaller phases that allow time to plan for schedule changes and juggling routines.
2 – Get Feedback from Your Team Frequently
Just as we’ve been doing for weeks while we work distantly, staying in contact with team members as you plan for the return is going to be critical to keeping the transition smooth. Try to keep regular meetings and conferences with partners, department heads, managers and other team members in order to make sure everyone is in the loop as far as communicating the phased plan being generated for the return to normal operations.
During these regular communications, be sure to gauge the feelings and concerns of your colleagues and coworkers. This is an excellent opportunity to get an up-front read on what your team will need from you in order to successfully transition from remote working scenarios. Be sure to consider these issues in the coming weeks to keep schedule delays and conflicts from affecting your increasing productivity plans.
3 – Be Clear About Expectations and Protocol
Another critical component of your communication efforts with your team will be to convey any and all policies and expectations that will be set into effect as things move away from distance working and back to traditional spaces. In order for your team to be able to plan for the transition, they must know first what to expect, and second, when to expect these changes to occur.
One of the fastest ways to derail your productivity efforts is with a breakdown in communication. When colleagues and employees aren’t adequately informed of timelines and procedures, it can cause major stressors among already struggling households with multiple schedule changes in place. In other words, you need to keep your plan clear and concise and it needs to be communicated as quickly as possible to everyone involved.
4 – Flexibility and Resources
With workers everywhere adapting to strict distancing regulations and abrupt cancellations of practically every public interaction available – school and work included – our lives were turned upside-down over the past several weeks with no discernable notice. If anything, it has proven our ability to persevere in the face of adversity, but that doesn’t mean it has been easy – not by any stretch of the imagination.
Now, as things slowly begin their return to a pre-pandemic norm, it’s important for employers of all walks to take into consideration the degree of chaos and change their team has been facing during this time. By understanding that most households have multiple work schedules and a sudden change in childcare schedules and education as well, employers will have a better sense of the level of flexibility that will be needed to transition away from working remotely again.
5 – Be Open to Change
At the end of the day, it must be said that this pandemic has ultimately shown both employees and employers that working remotely is not only possible in many cases, but preferable as well. While not all situations fall under this category, many employees have now seen that it is entirely possible to efficiently complete their job while working from home – a fact which also fits nicely with many home dynamics as well.
“Remote working has become a necessity for the majority of workers, and it’s shown businesses – some of which might have been skeptical about allowing staff to work from home – that it is possible to maintain productivity and communication,” explains Andrew Roughan, managing director for Plexal in an interview with Forbes.com.
As an alternative solution to choosing one extreme or the other (working from home or an abrupt return to full-time office work), coworking has become a viable consideration for many employers as well. By offering employees a professionally rented workspace to increase productivity but with the convenience of a shorter commute from home, coworking spaces are proving to be a valuable transitional asset as well.
Essentially, to reach optimal productivity and keep things running smoothly as the pandemic requirements phase out, employers need to not only remain flexible, but also open to change. Each scenario will be different, but it’s important not to entirely rule out distance working – via from home or from coworking spaces – from your phases. This situation may very well permanently change the way we approach the structure of the workplace to a model that’s much more centered on the needs and availability of its team members – something which could prove invaluable in terms of productivity going forward.