Businesses all over the world are in different stages from learning what COVID workplace recovery looks like, and at different rates. Some organizations are choosing to stick with the work from home model that was introduced during the pandemic while others are swiftly making plans to return to the office.
In fact, the traditional in-person office isn’t nearly as endangered as many experts predicted it would be when we saw the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. A 2020 report shows that only 1 of 5 respondents said they would want to continue working from home. Regardless of how much of your workforce you bring back to the office, you still need to have a plan in place.
First, you’ll need to find ways to adhere to physical safety guidelines where your office is located. If you’re looking for office space in the St. Louis area, research local restrictions and talk to your team about what would make them feel more comfortable about returning to work.
Maybe even more importantly, you’ll need to work to support your team’s mental health. It goes without saying that this window of our personal lives and professional careers is incredibly stressful and fraught with challenges. Business owners, managers, and entrepreneurs need to ensure that their employees feel hopeful about their return to the office — and that takes a handful of leadership skills that they may not teach you in business school.
Being resilient and adaptable was a trending soft skill for some time before the pandemic peaked, but it became a survival skill. If it seems like your business is shifting processes to keep up on a daily basis, it’s likely because it is. Lead by example and show everyone how to tackle unexpected changes and how to readjust their roles and duties to match unpredictable demand cycles.
When faced with such unprecedented circumstances, there’s a very good chance that the lines between work and home are blurred. That’s to be expected, and it’s your job as a leader to understand the unique challenges at home that each of your team members are facing so you can work together to help move forward at work. This takes extraordinary empathy and emotional intelligence, so it’s a skill that you should be brushing up on ASAP.
The time and project management skills you had pre-pandemic? Forget about ‘em, and don’t even worry about those tools you used when everyone was working remotely. Returning to the office means a closer look at changing job roles and duties, new working environments, and even a smaller staff, and which tools are better suited for time management for the current iteration of your business. This is another topic that should be shaped by the feedback you get from your team.
New ways of working means change, and that can be frustrating for your employees regardless of how long you’ve been working together. Conflict will inevitably arise, and because your employees each have different goals and needs, leaders and managers should focus on building skills that facilitate conflict resolution in the least disruptive way possible.
Would you be surprised to find out that 70% of business mistakes happen because of poor workplace communication? In this day and age, with all of the collaboration and communication tools available, there’s really no excuse for poor communication or none at all. Half of being a good communicator means being a good listener while the other half is being clear and concise in your own messaging; remember this if you think that your team isn’t quite connecting with what you’re saying.
The pandemic also taught us a thing or two about bootstrapping and getting creative with limited resources when necessary. Keep that innovation going as a leader even when you don’t have to scramble to pivot. Find an office space that has the design and aesthetic to inspire, the IT infrastructure to support new tech tools, and a central location in a community that thrives on innovation. Encourage everyone to share their ideas, regardless of how off-the-wall they may seem.
Looking for a change of scenery as you return managing and leading a team in a post-covid workplace? Consider leasing office space in The Globe Building — we have custom space, low-cost gigabit internet, and secure parking — right in the heart of the downtown St. Louis Innovation District. We are one block from Washington Avenue shopping, restaurants and residential lofts and less than a mile from the site of the new $1.7 Billion NGA West site; contact us to set up a tour.