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April 20, 2021

What’s Your Return to Work Plan?

by Johanna Lyman in Blog Roll

It’s been over a year since we all began to shelter in place, and now everyone’s buzzing about returning to work. An internet search of “return to work” yielded over fifteen billion hits in .6 seconds…with nearly as many opinions about what to do.

At Kadabra, we’re not fans of a “one size fits all” approach. Those don’t typically fit anyone very well.

From our perspective, there are five key things to take into consideration when planning a successful return to work strategy. When we take clients through this process, we use a graphic facilitator to help them think through everything they need to take into consideration. From policies to timelines to technology and other needs, and the impact on culture, it’s a complex problem—our favorite kind. These are some of the things we invite them to consider:

  1. Timeline. Don’t jump the gun on getting back to the office. We’re learning that the variants are virulent, and likely the main cause of the fourth COVID surge we’re beginning to see here and around the world. Consider a staged return to work plan, with decision trees along the way to inform whether and when you move to the next stage.
  2. Assumptions. What unspoken assumptions are members of your team holding? Many people have a default desire to get “back to normal,” but what’s behind that desire? What other assumptions are being made? You’ll want to surface them as you enter the planning stage.
  3. Needs assessment. You’ll want to survey all stakeholders and segment them based on department and roles. What policies need to be changed? What technology might you need to invest in? How will you ensure equity in promotion and recognition when people aren’t all in the office? What other needs do you have to take into consideration for your unique business?
  4. Worst case scenario. While we’re optimists by nature, we find it helpful to do a pre-mortem where we assume we failed at executing the plan well. As we dissect what went wrong, we can identify things that we may have otherwise failed to consider.
  5. Best case scenario. When you identify the ideal plan, everyone understands what they’re working toward. Spoiler alert: getting “back to normal” is almost certainly not the best-case scenario. It’s important to take the time to sort through various scenarios to determine the best one for your organization.

Regardless of whether you decide to stay remote, return to everyone being in person, or crafting a hybrid solution, we recommend taking these five things into consideration during your planning process. We also encourage our clients to take a trauma-informed approach to designing their plans. Ask us how we can support you!