Project Management

The Hard Truth: There Is No ‘Old Way’ To Return To

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at [email protected] Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

“It’s different now.”

That’s what a project manager friend of mine said to me after he had just finished his first day back in the office in almost two years. Like so many other people, he and his team (and most of the employees in his company) went to fully remote working almost overnight in March of 2020.

At the time, like most other people, he assumed that there would be a need to adapt to new ways of working for a brief period and then things would go back to how they were. But of course, that hasn’t happened.

His employer is allowing most people to retain a flexible working arrangement as they look to enable a partial return, and he will be in the office for a few days a month while remaining primarily remote. His reaction to his first day back was likely similar to many. There was a lot that he said was familiar—the physical space, the commute, even the awful taste of the coffee from the machine in the break room.

But then when he started to pay more attention, he recognized all the differences. Fewer chairs in the meeting rooms, hand sanitizer stations outside all the elevators, fewer cubicles (and more widely spaced apart), and so on.

He said it felt strange because it was familiar, yet somehow different, and he had a hard time feeling comfortable, even though there was nothing changing about the work he was doing. He …

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