Project Management

Your Next Project: Transitioning Back to the Office

From the Voices on Project Management Blog
by , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Voices on Project Management offers insights, tips, advice and personal stories from project managers in different regions and industries. The goal is to get you thinking, and spark a discussion. So, if you read something that you agree with--or even disagree with--leave a comment.

About this Blog


View Posts By:

Cyndee Miller
Lynda Bourne
Kevin Korterud
Conrado Morlan
Peter Tarhanidis
Mario Trentim
Jen Skrabak
David Wakeman
Wanda Curlee
Christian Bisson
Ramiro Rodrigues
Soma Bhattacharya
Emily Luijbregts
Sree Rao
Yasmina Khelifi
Marat Oyvetsky
Lenka Pincot
Jorge Martin Valdes Garciatorres

Past Contributors:

Rex Holmlin
Vivek Prakash
Dan Goldfischer
Linda Agyapong
Jim De Piante
sanjay saini
Siti Hajar Abdul Hamid
Bernadine Douglas
Judy Umlas
Abdiel Ledesma
Michael Hatfield
Deanna Landers
Alfonso Bucero
Kelley Hunsberger
Taralyn Frasqueri-Molina
William Krebs
Marian Haus
Shobhna Raghupathy
Peter Taylor
Joanna Newman
Saira Karim
Jess Tayel
Lung-Hung Chou
Rebecca Braglio
Roberto Toledo
Geoff Mattie
Dmitri Ivanenko PMP ITIL

Recent Posts

100 Days to Becoming a Better Project Manager

What Is the Future of Project Management?

The Perks of Communities of Practice During COVID-19

Aligning International Stakeholders During a Global Pandemic

5 Ways to Successfully Manage Remote Project Teams

Categories: Disruption, Technology

By Wanda Curlee

Spikes in cases. The new normal. Limited opening. Social distancing.

These are all new taglines that we’re hearing as we slowly move back to the office. Granted, some of us were already remote workers and in that case, the change will be minimal. But those returning to the office will experience a radically different environment.

What does this have to do with project management? Well, project managers play an integral part in the transition, and it started sometime back.

When the pandemic first hit and lockdown started, project managers were needed. Companies could not just send their employees home with their laptops and hope that work would continue as usual. Project managers had to put in extra work to ensure employees and resources were prepared for the transition. And there was minimal time to prepare.

I am sure that many companies did not expect to be on lockdown for months. For many, it has been devastating. But now it is time for project managers to help transition employees back to the office.

Compared to going remote at the beginning of the pandemic, project managers now have more time to plan and execute the project to transition work back to the brick-and-mortar office. But a project to transition work back to the office is also quite different from transitioning to a totally remote environment. Transitioning back to the company’s physical location requires setting up the office to meet social distancing requirements and other regulations established by the state and the federal government, making sure IT is in place to handle the transitioned workforce, instituting updated processes for the new environment, ensuring contractors are hired to maintain new cleanliness procedures, helping the workforce learn the new cleanliness policy and what to do if an employee is sick, and so forth.

Or will it be a different type of project? Companies’ leadership may have considered how well the remote workforce did. Recently, I read that some companies located in Manhattan may not return to their office spaces at all. The leadership saw that working remotely was much cheaper and resulted in a happier workforce, with more or at least the same amount of work accomplished. Sure, we heard about parents who had to work while also looking after or homeschooling their children. But for many, this is a temporary phenomenon.

If the leadership decides to keep the workforce remote, the tasks will be different. The project manager may have to look at helping all employees move their offices back to their homes, make the IT system more robust, develop procedures to support the workforce with upgrades, create processes to help employees with broken laptops and keep them working while the computer is fixed, develop new processes for hiring and assisting new employees in understanding daily expectations, and assess whether new tools are needed, such as online signatures and secure conference systems, among other tasks.

Project managers will need to think outside of the traditional ideas of a virtual environment or a brick- and-mortar office. These project managers will be establishing the new normal for their companies.

How are you helping your team transition?


Posted by Wanda Curlee on: June 20, 2020 01:33 PM | Permalink

Comments (2)

Please login or join to subscribe to this item
Something I've observed in Asia at least, is that transitioning to the New Normal doesn't just entail the enablement of employees to "work remotely" per se, but also other associated requirements such as being able to communicate securely, or have greater contingency planning.

In other words, opportunities for project managers!

Very interesting, thanks for sharing

Please Login/Register to leave a comment.


I see where one young boy has just passed 500 hours sitting in a treetop. There is a good deal of discussion as to what to do with a civilization that produces prodigies like that. Wouldn't it be a good idea to take his ladder away from him and leave him up there?

- Will Rogers