Returning to work after working from home for an extended period of time is going to be challenging, not only personally but within teams and organizations as well. Here are some tips to reset and reconnect back at the office – By Charmaine Hammond, MA, BA, CSP

Now more than ever, reconnecting and resilience is a required skill to help employees succeed and grow with an organization, build healthy workplaces, deal with virtual burnout/zoom fatigue and work in quickly changing or workplaces. 

In the current times, teams working remotely due to a global pandemic is creating significant challenges for the way we work in teams; however, many are also struggling with the return to work. Some leaders have stated there is reluctance, apprehension and concerns about the return to work, but not for the reasons you might think.

Leaders shared that some of their team members are concerned about “how” the team will work together and adapt to being together again. Others expressed concern about how the conflicts and tensions will “show up” in the workplace. 

So how do we cope?
What can we do to set the return to work process up for success?
What’s the solution?

How to Adjust to Change – Returning to Work

Here are 6 tips to help teams navigate these unknowns, adjustments and changes when returning to work:

Encourage and model reconnection. 

Lead through action. Find opportunities to reconnect with your team members and colleagues throughout the week. Allow some time at meetings to “catch up” and reconnect. Some may think this “small talk” is unnecessary; however, if you think of it as reconnecting talk, you will see how important this is. 

Tell people what is NOT changing. 

Far too often, the focus is on everything that will be changing and how things will be different. Reminding people what is not changing (e.g. your company values) is very important in creating more certainty. 

Schedule regular team meetings. 

Ensure you allow time and opportunity for team members to reacquaint, reconnect and reset. For example, regular team meetings provide an opportunity for the team to work together again. 

Communicate clearly, consistently and often.  

Irregular communication and poorly communicated messages will quickly impact team morale and team functioning. It is also likely to create more workplace stress and dissent when you’re trying to build connection and engagement. Cascading messages (delivering messages/information through various means such as 1:1 dialogue, team meetings, team meeting notes/minutes, check-ins, etc.) will help ensure communication is a high priority. Effective and regular communication will also dispel rumors and assumptions in the process. 

Learn more about the importance of communication and collaboration in the workplace.

Resolve issues and conflicts early on. 

Conflict does not improve with time and age. Understandably, conflict in teams has increased during the past year. Conflict typically surfaces or intensifies during times of change, stress, adversity and crisis. Regular communication and addressing issues effectively and quickly will aid in healthy resolution dialogue. 

Learn more about the importance of problem solving and conflict management in the workplace.

Allow transition time between in-person and online meetings. 

These transition times are significant for healthy team dynamics. Those short hallway and coffee room conversations, walking down the hallway together and poking one’s head into another’s office to say hello, are critically important as teams return to work. Encourage team members to create transition time between their meetings – No more back-to-back zoom calls and meetings. 

For those working from home still or in a hybrid scenario, encourage people to create transitions between home and work and meetings to help prepare them to return to work. This transition time could be a daily routine or activity that separates work from your time at home. For example, closing the door to your home office or home working space to symbolize “work is done for the day.”

Final Thoughts on Returning to Work

Remember, every little step you take every day to foster resilience at home and work is like putting a deposit in your bank account. To your resilience!

Charmaine Hammond is an expert in resilience, collaboration and conflict resolution. She works with teams who want to increase resilience, engagement and work better together.