The Return to the Office Will Only Succeed Through Radical Transparency
Have these conversations before moving from your kitchen table back to your desk
After months of remote work, the leaders at my company recently announced on an all-team Zoom call that we will be heading back to the office very soon — in a modified way, following social distancing guidelines. It was an announcement we all knew was coming; many have already started migrating back to office life as states lifted their coronavirus-related restrictions.
Still, the news hit me in a way I didn’t expect: I was sad.
When we first began sheltering in place, I hated working from home. I even actively looked for excuses to make trips back to the office — had I left something on my desk that I urgently needed? But eventually, I settled into a comfortable routine, learned how to be pretty productive in my new setting, and somehow felt more connected to my co-workers than I had when we were sitting right across from each other. And I couldn’t complain about the commute.
For workers making a safe transition back to the office — a situation that I acknowledge is an extremely fortunate one to be in right now — there may be a lot of mixed feelings and anxieties. I certainly had them. After that Zoom call, questions that had previously seemed abstract took on new urgency: What would this process look like? How would we minimize our risk? Would managers expect everything to be business as usual?
What I realized is that a return to the office will only succeed through radical transparency. There are conversations we need to be having with our bosses and our teams even before we step through the doors. Here’s how to help make the process easier — and less anxiety-inducing.
- Set up a call with your manager to talk through your feelings and circumstances, as well as their expectations for you during this season. Be honest. Tell them if you have specific concerns about returning to work — for instance, you might have an intense fear of getting sick because you have an immunocompromised family member or roommate. The more context you can give your manager, the better chance they can help find a solution you’re comfortable with.