Are you finding working at home has gotten more comfortable and productive? Do you wonder what the return to your workplace would be like? What happens when you are back in the office, manufacturing line, or other industry locations requiring your presence? The answers will reflect the new normal of all workplaces. How well will you re-enter?
The term re-entry was a common phrase during the early days of our space program when the Houston based team of experts would wait with anxiety for the first signs that the astronauts landed safely to earth. That quickly became routine. Returning to work and an old schedule can be a lot like re-entry for many working at home and online. Some may require an occasional visit to the office under specific health guidelines. For others there will be a return to the workplace they left, but with new health guidelines and new opportunities
There will be a definite period of adjustment to the new normal. First, the transition period will be a negotiated one where owners and employees will discuss the new relationship challenges and offer solutions. The experiences of working at home or waiting for a startup date create new habits. There may be new expectations and new ways of looking at the work/life balance. For most it can be a hard transition.
At home there was more freedom to schedule work and family events; new ways of building relationships within the family; greater use of home computers; distance between work associates; greater presence for any emergencies; and a certain comfort that productivity was high for both work and family matters.
What is the new normal? Work from home will be more common. Workplace designs will reflect the new distance and physical separation requirements; lunchrooms will not be the same; the local restaurant will likely have transformed into a carry-out location, if it still exists. There will be lots of empty space on your floor and throughout the building. There will be more office space for sale; commercial buildings, especially in large cities, will be sold or abandoned.
Google and Facebook have announced that much of their business will be done from home. Machinery will be sanitized often. Virtual management will be the norm in many places. This means a challenge to keep people motivated and connected.
There will be more accommodations for children and even elderly relatives. More workplace clinics will appear. Work breaks will be more common to allow for rest and personal business to happen.
How the workplace will ultimately appear, and function, will be a negotiated process between managers and owners and employees. It will be an opportunity for Generations Y and Z to make their contribution to a flatter, flexible and more meaningful workplace.
What can a transition event prior to re-entry look like? It will include but not be limited to topics that identify the owners’ and employees’ concerns and challenges for re-entry. It can include a discussion of how the workplace will be different along with the new opportunities that exist. Implications of leaving the family, if not working at home, and a discussion of options to take care of any children. Topics specific to the company and your specific workplace will be added. And areas where there is room for negotiation — say, for the general schedule, personal time and work hours, for example.
There will be changes, from minimal to significant. And an investment in a reentry or workplace transition can be worthwhile to assure “you hit the ground running” in the new normal.