Return To Work: How Good Leaders Can Facilitate A Safe Reopening
Recovering from Crisis
Good crisis leaders use empathy, active listening,
and communication to identify the best ways to
help employees feel comfortable, safe, and heard
upon their return. When leaders build strong, trusting
relationships with their employees throughout the
crisis, their team is more likely to help them iron
things out and build new processes as things return
Recovery requires leaders to see what was working
before that needs to remain, what no longer works
and needs to be replaced, and what organically
occurred that can help them in the future. It requires
perceptiveness, problem solving, and action in order
to make it happen. They need to be agile, perceptive,
organized, and remain composed as things may
not always go according to plan. The ability to be
adaptive without hesitating to make key decisions
makes for confident leadership that employees can
turn to for guidance and support during stressful and
What If They Don’t Want to Return?
Understandably, there will be some employees
who are uncomfortable with returning to the office.
Perhaps they have small children and no child
care has opened yet. Perhaps they are the sole
caregiver to an elderly family member. Perhaps they
themselves are high risk. Perhaps they simply do
not feel safe returning to the workplace. There are
valid reasons why people would want to opt-out
of returning from work-from-home, and those
employees should be heard.
Examine the policies your company has put in place
for returning to the workplace. Is there an opt-out
option available to employees? Are there alternate
accommodations that can be made for those under
extenuating circumstances? Right now, listening
to the concerns of employees is of the utmost
importance. Be sure that every individual feels
heard, understood, and that an agreement can be
reached that is acceptable and beneficial to everyone
involved. Leaders may be the go-between in this
case, where they act as advocates for employees,
which means communication and negotiation skills
are critical at this time.
What If Another Shutdown Happens?
One of the largest challenges of this moment is that
things can change quickly, and with little warning.
As some states begin to reopen, others are halting
their reopening efforts, and some may be shutting
down once again. The only certainty is that there is
nothing to be certain about. Plans put in place today
may no longer be the plan that works tomorrow. Be
sure leaders understand every contingency plan,
every alternate accommodation possible, and which
scenarios lead to which response plans.
Communication will once again be a critical need as
situations change and the rules and policies fluctuate
to ensure the health and safety of employees. Be
sure to inform employees every step of the way, let
them know what to expect given each contingency
and every level of warning should case grow in their
Do they know what happens if there’s a spike in
cases or an outbreak in their region? Do they know
what happens if the state reinstates a shutdown?
Do they know what happens if things continue to
improve? Open communication, answering questions,
and keeping employees informed and in the loop will
be the top priority during the next few months as
things are in flux.
Knowing which competencies to lean on in an
unpredictable and unprecedented crisis can be a
considerable challenge, but by better understanding
your leaders and their behavioral strengths
can help your organization better facilitate and
manage the transition bringing employees from the
work-from-home back into the workplace.
This article originally appeared here.
Aggie Alvarez is Marketing
Communications Manager at Caliper.
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