Project Management

What’s In Your Return-To-Work Contract?

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During the long duration of the pandemic, each of us had to shift our work/life balance. We had to curate a new workday schedule, perhaps adding more flexibility to support multiple needs between work and family. A changing focus with customer and colleague engagement, repurposing commuting time, tending to family needs, caring for those affected by COVID-19, and supporting relief efforts are just some of the changes we had to adapt to. The pandemic forced each of us to make personal and conscious ethical decisions on the tradeoffs, but most have of us have set into a new work/life balance.

After almost 20 months, the world is deploying COVID-19 vaccines under health authorities like the U.S. FDA and Europe’s EMA, who have expanded access protocol for emergency use. The world is hopefully on a trajectory toward a post-pandemic world. Many organizations have established their return-to-work policies, criteria, and expectations of colleagues. One may observe a continuum of return-to-work guidelines built by organizations as a highly collaborative model focused on high-touch customer experience, an innovation-driven design model, or task-based transactional work. Each organization is calling to us to spend some time back in the office or in front of our stakeholders.

How does this affect us, and what do we do to prepare? Our choices can be to simply go back to a pre-pandemic “normal”; stay in the work-from-home pandemic style; or re-engage in a post-pandemic style. Regarding this last choice, we should consider how to maneuver ourselves into a post-pandemic style while still maintaining the agility of working from home. This disruption to our current way of working creates a sense of stress and anxiety as it asks us to re-engage. One must re-learn and adapt to new behaviors and approaches.

One opportunity to be better prepared may be to create a personal contract for the post-pandemic work world. The contract can be a statement or a list of priorities. Here are some tips that I will use to help make the transition better and reset myself:

  1. Revisit what you and your colleagues are professionally devoted toward, and why.
  2. Curate the difference of a workday at home versus in the office (or traveling).
  3. Coordinate specific dates and times for in-person versus virtual meetings.
  4. Make lunch plans with newly hired colleagues.
  5. Start a back-to-work focus group to help facilitate colleagues’ transition back.
  6. Be clear about your constraints on social distancing, work hours, and time off.
  7. Schedule healthy eating times, sleeping and exercise habits, family needs, etc.
  8. Identify your new peeves and triggers; be mindful of behavioral changes (from both you and your colleagues).
  9. Start a journal and chronicle your path and learnings.
  10. Remember: Everyone has a different path—but together we will get through it!

What would your list include to enable a post-pandemic transition back to work?

Posted by Peter Tarhanidis on: July 20, 2021 12:09 PM | Permalink

Comments (6)

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Dear Peter
The theme that brought to our reflection and debate is very interesting.
Thanks for sharing and your opinions.
Did the pandemic radically change our way of life?
Do we want to continue working at a distance?
I think the most important thing is to reinvent the spaces in the companies where we worked before the pandemic

Hi Luis,

Thank you for your response and for adding the questions and comments to the list!!

Regards,

Peter

Dear Peter, it is interesting to note that the Covid-19 pandemic has altered processes and mindsets in almost every field

Thanks Peter, your number 8 and 10 are very relevant to me; developing empathy, being human to other humans, we are all in the same situation, we can understand one another and, together, we’ll make it, as you mention.

Thank you both Kwiyuh Micahel and Manuel for your comments and views.

Regards,

Peter

My list for return to the workplace would definitely include chocolate (I've grown accustomed to a bit after lunch daily) and self-empathy. #8 is a standout. We are all changed on a personal level from the pandemic experience. How will that translate in the physical/virtual workspaces? What will the new norms and expectations be, not just for physical safety and well-being? Are we more or less patient, curious, forgiving, open-minded, creative, energized, sociable, etc and how do we acknowledge and adjust to that?

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