As we prepare for the return to work with thousands of employees set to get back into the workplace in the coming months, we wanted to share our top tips to make the transition easier and minimise stress for both employers and employees.

There are a lot of factors employers need to consider to make the return to work both safe and stress-free for their teams. Leaders will need to walk the tightrope between commercialism and compassion – tough love may be needed. Whilst empathy is necessary for individual members of your team and how they might be feeling, there’s no room for dubiety as now more than ever people need clear direction.

Before commencing your return, employers must have a realistic and pragmatic plan that doesn’t overpromise or pay lip service – we’d always recommend having a clear strategy in place with a supporting operational plan that all the leadership team are committed to delivering .All line managers should be involved in the process and should be given clear communication and any relevant training to ensure they are confident in managing the process. 

The key to a successful return is engaging with the teams, using emotional intelligence to actively listen to what their concerns are. Be transparent and make sure your employees are kept up to date throughout the process so there are no surprises and there’s no room for miscommunication. Make sure your plan has key dates and a focus on how safety will be prioritised, for example, how many team members will be in the office at any one time.

Remember, if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got, so the return to the office can also provide some much-needed time for self-reflection. Talk to your team and find out what they’ve enjoyed about remote working – whether it’s more flexibility or reduced commuting time – and find out what they’ve missed about office life. Combine the two where possible to meet in the middle for a happier, more productive workforce.

You should offer your team inclusivity, but before rushing back into the office, take some time to consider what inclusivity really means to you – be hard on the uncomfortable truths to ensure that the return to work strategy reflects what this really looks like for the company. If you consider yourself inclusive to your team members with childcare responsibilities, how flexible are you willing to be to support these, and will you offer the same degree of flexibility to team members with other responsibilities that are important to them?

Your approach to the return to work should be integrated and shouldn’t segregate anybody. Lead from the top, but hold your team members accountable to be a part of the solution – if they feel that they have played an active role in decision making and had their key points acknowledged or even accommodated, this will help you to create a new way of working that works for everybody. Remember, not all of your team will be excited to return to the office way of life and for some a degree of rehabilitation will be necessary.

Finally – it’s important to remember your leadership mindsets:

  • Self Awareness: Knowing how your own feelings and blind spots can impact others.
  • Conscious Leadership: Being present and aware of your team’s needs and calling out bad behaviours.
  • Ethical Leadership: Doing the right things by your team, and making sure your behaviours match your words.
  • Building Trust: Delivering exactly what you say you will – don’t overpromise and under deliver.

To learn more about the 10 key mindsets needed for leadership in the coming months, sign up to our upcoming conference for just £50: