5 rules to manage the return to the office

A "back to work" checklist.

by Jeremy Hazlehurst

1. Be open

Line managers should find out how their direct reports are feeling about returning to the office. “You can say: ‘You know, I'm feeling a bit anxious about going in myself, how are you feeling?’ In conversations with people you manage, the more vulnerable you make yourself, the more they're going to tell you the truth,” says Cary Cooper, Professor of Organisational Psychology at Alliance Manchester Business School

2. Be results-driven

Be flexible, but monitor results. People should be given the freedom to work how they want, as long as results are good. “If you are not getting results, then you need another conversation to say: ‘This is not working, we need to try something else,’” says a change management expert at a large UK organisation. 

3. Be trusting

Using the office as a hub for collaborating and building relationships can be very powerful, but managers need to buy into the idea. “All you need is one or two comments by a senior leader, like: ‘Does it seem to anybody else that all we do is have coffee all day and chat?’ And then, that the benefits of creating this culture space in your office building vanish,” says John Weeks, professor of leadership and organisational behaviour at Swiss business school IMD.

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