What does return to work look like in our COVID-19 world?


What a ride this COVID-19 journey has been.  This forced home time has been a blessing really, when you think about it.  It has been hard to adjust and definitely there are some parts which become more difficult or onerous, particularly if you have had to also juggle kids at home with school commitments.  We’ve all had to adjust to a different way of working. 

There has been less commuting, more time for family, more time for exercise, gardening, and thinking, much more time for thinking.   Thinking about how work can be achieved differently in the future, thinking about how we’ll engage with our clients, how will the Courts and other services operate? Will there be greater efficiencies found? Are their different ways that we can work in the future to look after our teams and our clients?

Having thought through and taken the time to consider those points then what?  How can you implement new processes or revise old processes to find efficiencies?  What does return to work really look like and how do you go about finding out what your team thinks?

Leadership is a collaborative process.  You may have views about what can and possibly has to happen and be keen to implement them.  What’s really important in this process though is finding out and considering what your team thinks, taking the time to listen, and reflect on what can or should change and what should stay the same.   These three steps will assist you in that process.

Ask questions and listen

Talk to your team, ask questions.  They are your front line client service team – what do they have to say about how things work moving forward.  How have they found working from home?  What does the future look like for them?  How can we take some of these efficiencies and imbed them in what we do

Listening, truly listening is a learned skill.  It’s easy to be distracted in a world full of distraction.  Have you ever caught yourself tuned out to a conversation wondering what was just said, then trying to work it out, catch up while still listening?  Have you ever scolded yourself to “listen” to pull yourself back to the conversation?   What makes active listening so difficult?  Why is it that some are great at it and some are not?  We might think we are listening but have you ever noticed yourself thinking about your response as part of that? 

Put aside what you think… What does your team have to say?  Put aside other work, mute calls, shut down internet browsers, listen and take notes.


Pull together your notes.  Stop, think.  Take the time to really consider what your team has to say.  How can you make changes?  Can you implement everyone’s requests?  How will it all work?  

What do you think?  Only after you have considered what your team thinks should you then go work through your thoughts? 

Collate all of your notes.  What does it look like?  Use a big piece of paper and a mind map if you need to.  Make sure you have considered everyone’s point of view.


Once you have settled on a process, plan or new procedure, communicate it to your team.  Be sure to let them know how you came to the decision you’ve made, thanking all for their input.  Explain the process, make sure everyone is clear.  If particular ideas that team members were passionate about aren’t being implemented – talk to them, explain why.

If any new procedures are implemented – document them, either in your policy manual or by email so everyone is on the same page.

The key to this process though is listening.  This COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact for many.  People have lost jobs.  Some are uncertain.  For those who had never worked from home it was an upheaval from the norm.  A significant readjustment.  Listen and listen well.

So, as our Governments roll out their staged “reboot” there is much to consider. How you manage that process is key.    Listen, really listen, reflect and communicate.

How will you manage your return to “normal”?  Can you see some efficiencies coming out of this process?

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