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Lead the Transition Back to Work

Tim Driscoll

July 2, 2020

We are living in a time where a clear path forward can be difficult, if not impossible, to find. Yet at the same time, our COVID-19 world has provided a backdrop against which formidable leaders have risen to the occasion. Take New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, whose empathetic, clear, jargon-free addresses to her nation have been met with rousing applause from the media and officials alike.

You also have an opportunity to lead your people through a new challenge — whether that’s figuring out how to go back to in-office work or adjusting to your new-normal remote workforce. As difficult as it has been to get used to operating remotely, this has become the normal way of life.

Can you instill confidence and clarity in your people as they make the transition back to a new new normal? Today, we’re sharing with you some key methods to make sure you aren’t just acting as a boss, but as a leader.


Unite under a shared purpose

What is the purpose driving everyone at your company to get out of bed and get to work? Sure, you have goals for the year, but why? It’s vitally important to identify this as a rallying point across the organization. Maybe you create vehicles that allow people to get to the places that matter. Maybe you develop technology to extend the quality of life for the elderly. Maybe you distribute office supplies that enable people to accomplish their personal and professional goals. There’s always a way to tie back to the values of your company. And by doing that, you call everyone to a higher purpose that is made possible by rowing in the same direction together.


Communicate clearly and with empathy

As you develop a plan for those who will return to work on-site, freely acknowledge how things will be both familiar and different. Prepare your people for what they will soon experience. 

Just because everyone is returning to the same office, that doesn’t mean they should go back to the same habits. Assess how you’ve been operating remotely — perhaps a new communication tool, workflow structure, or mental health initiative. Identify these and include them in your plans. Let your teams know why they have been, and will continue to be, so important. 

At the same time, many people will still need to navigate challenges faced at home — with schools closed and continued physical health concerns. Openly acknowledging this reality and providing options to meet their needs will communicate to your team that you are already anticipating how to best support them while accomplishing your vision together.

Although there will be many logistical factors to consider, remember what really matters is that you serve as a dependable source who communicates authentically. Your team will need to know what is happening and why — and that those who are making important decisions (you) really care. So, let them see that you do! 


Reinforce what you’re working toward

Assess performance toward your goals through frequent 1:1s. Not only will this support your ongoing conversation on work, it will help you keep an eye out for burnout and opportunities to provide support your people might not even know they need.

Your role as a leader is also to motivate through recognition. Now more than ever, you should be taking every opportunity to reinforce value and call out those who are giving their all. Make sure you have a dependable system in place that allows you and your employees’ peers to recognize the great work they do. Regardless of the form, the point is to acknowledge that someone has taken up your shared purpose and is driving success to everyone’s benefit. You are all in this together! 


Activate the leaders around you

But remember: You don’t have to do this alone! The power of your teams and the individuals who make up your company are a vital resource that you should be leveraging. While you’re only one person, you are far from going it alone. Identify talent within your teams and call on them to help develop your back-to-work plan, roll out any new initiatives, and rally a positive outlook across the organization.

While you individually can provide the “push” to keep team members focused and productive, shared leadership provides crucial “pull.”

Providing people at all levels of your organization with the opportunity to take on special projects or provide coaching on a topic of expertise will not only get them more deeply engaged and aligned with your goals, but ease your workload too!


Being a great leader isn’t something you just read about in a blog or learn from an online class. Being a great leader truly takes time and practice as you develop the skills needed to communicate effectively and inspire others through your shared purpose.

Inspire Software is dedicated to supporting leaders at all levels of your organization. Our world-class talent management platform provides an integrated suite of applications that enables managers to become leaders, increasing performance at all levels of an organization.