Workforce Management

How to Successfully Return to Work

HR insights and tips with Jeff Havens

Hello, and welcome to another installment of HR Intervention! By now you’re probably going back to the workplace (or at least thinking about what it’ll look like), or maybe you’ve already been back to work for a while – or maybe you never left work, I don’t know.

The point is, I’m sorry. Having to return to work is always a daunting task, one we’ve been training for every Sunday evening for the past forever, but it’s a lot harder when you’ve had 63 Sundays in a row.

And on top of that, now you have to navigate a changed working environment, which exactly none of us signed up for. So to start things off, yes I completely agree with you – 2020 is a stupid year, and it can go away as soon as possible please. But between now and then, let’s see if we can figure out how to make the “return to work” transition as smooth and (dare I say it?) valuable as possible.

So here are two very simple ways to create a new working environment that might even maybe possibly be better than the one you had before the apocalypse happened.

Figure Out What Worked Well from Home 

For anyone who was expected to work from home during the quarantine, it will be impossible to argue that they are incapable of doing it.

All of us figured out how to get plenty of things done from the comfort of our kitchen tables and walk-in closets while our children crawled all over everything and interrupted as many video calls as they possibly could. If you’ve never tried working from home before – or even if you have but did so casually – the last few months have been a crash course in figuring out how make it work.

So ask everyone where they found success, and then figure out which successes were the most universal across your teams. From there, devising flexible schedules or rotating in-office requirements or revised meeting policies shouldn’t be so daunting.

Figure Out What Didn’t Work so Well 

Because there were plenty of things that didn’t.

Video calls are not always as efficient (or enjoyable) as in-person meetings. Collaboration is not always as easy over the phone as it is in the office. And happy hours are not as fun on a video screen – at least, that’s my take.

The point is, your people will have discovered for themselves which parts of their jobs were negatively impacted by being unable to go into your building and work alongside other people, and figuring out those pain points will help you reinforce which parts of your workflow simply can’t be replaced no matter how much technology you throw at it.

Taken together, these two simple questions will tell you exactly what your “new normal” should look like. And getting this information out of everyone should be the easiest thing in the world, since all of us have been going through the same thing.

In fact, there’s probably never been an easier time than now to analyze the way your work happens and make improvements.

So take that, apocalypse!

Did you know BizLibrary is offering free video training on how to safely transition your employees back to the workplace? Click here or the image below to access the playlist!

Free online training on workforce re-entry

Jeff Havens is a speaker, author, and professional development expert who tackles leadership, generational, and professional development issues with an exceptional blend of content and entertainment. He is a contributing writer to Fast Company, Entrepreneur, BusinessWeek, The Wall Street Journal; and has been featured on CNBC and Fox Business. For more information, or to bring Jeff to your next meeting, call 309-306-1781, email, or visit

Speaker, Author and Professional Development Expert