We’ve spent over a year working from our homes, adjusting and battling against the negative impact of remote working whilst also embracing newly-found positives.

As a leader, your thoughts and focus are now turning to what’s next for your company as we move out of the pandemic, what does that mean for you and your team? Inevitably it means more change.

Whether you’re going back to physical office fully or partially, have you really thought through what’s it’s going to be like? Stepping out of our “caves”, dressing up again, commuting again, seeing everyone again, isn’t it going to be a little overwhelming? And what about for your team? Even more so if there are new recruits who haven’t met anyone in the flesh yet! Is it going to be a case of “covid shock” for everyone?

Perhaps you’ve thought about having a team meeting first thing on the first day to set the scene? Or appointing “welcome back” people who can provide support and some fun as people get used to their office and their colleagues again? Ultimately can you make the office more attractive than zoom?

Have you taken the time to ask your team members what are their biggest concerns about returning to the office?

What if some people are genuinely scared about it, not just for health reasons but also the overwhelming feeling of being in close proximity to everyone again?

If you felt you needed to be more empathetic during lockdown then plan on ramping it up even more as everyone returns to work over the coming months. One thing is for sure, for better or for worse, the past year has changed how our teams and businesses will operate forever.

But let’s not forget that there have been plenty of leaders who haven’t stopped during this pandemic – I’m talking about those amazing role-models in the emergency services, working in hospitals, teachers who haven’t had a choice, they’ve continued to lead through all of the challenges. When the chips were down, when the country was in crisis, and too many “leaders” by name were running around like headless chickens, these were the people we looked up to for support, they communicated with us, kept things running and kept us safe.

How did they manage to keep everyone motivated in their teams, how did they keep morale so high in such challenging circumstances? I wonder what lessons our business leaders should learn from them?

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Previously published on LinkedIn