It’s been a long hard few months for many people as they’ve been working from home during the pandemic and experienced the emotional strain of a nation grappling with weighty topics.

As states begin to re-open and move through the phases that allow businesses back to the office, it’s important to communicate as openly as possible with employees. We’ve learned a lot about each others’ lives these past few months as we’ve Zoomed in from homes.

Some people may have purple couches. Others may have health concerns we didn’t know about from pre-existing conditions. Some may have taken up new and fun hobbies. For others, we may have seen them balancing working while being a full-time caregiver or schoolteacher. We have definitely seen or heard a lot of barking dogs.

Please keep these insights in mind as you begin the discussion with your team about coming back to the office.

  • Let the team know as soon as possible when your company expects the office to open and any adjustments being made to the space.
  • Follow up and ask each employee individually if they feel comfortable returning to the office on the proposed time schedule and if they need any accommodations.
  • Ask employees when they will come back to the office, instead of asking when they’ll be coming back to the work. They have been working, in some cases in very tough conditions.
  • Ask employees if they will need any adjustments to the standard working hour arrangements to accommodate their circumstances. They may want to commute at a different time to avoid rush-hour crowds. They may still be juggling childcare with staggered school schedules.

If we communicate with an aim for each others’ well-being, we will be on the road for healthier long-term work relationships.