How Companies are Using Change Management Strategies for Returning to Work

Coffee cup with a sticky note labeled "welcome back".

Returning to work after the COVID-19 pandemic will present new challenges. Employers need to develop change management strategies to handle the transformation.

Now that many businesses are slowly opening up, employees will begin returning to the office after months of working from home. The business landscape has changed marginally over the past few months, and it won’t return to normal any time soon, if at all.

Change management principles are effective across the board regardless of your industry. Begin with a vision of what you want the future to look like, then take steps to make it happen. 

Before the pandemic, many organizations competed for the best office space. Open-office designs were thought to promote creativity and collaboration.

As of April 2020, 62% of Americans were working at home during the pandemic. This number is up from 25% just two years ago.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed all aspects of business. Companies need a new view of how their industry will be impacted in the short and long-term.

Employees need to know what will be expected of them in this “new normal.” Here are strategies for addressing change management in a way that will inspire and motivate.

Explain why change is necessary

Employees need to understand why change is necessary before altering how they work. This is especially important when making the shift from working from home and returning to the office.

Previous barriers that prevented people from working at home are no longer in place. Many teams are able to successfully work together remotely. Virtual conferencing applications have created collaboration spaces that eliminate the need for a daily commute.

Physical offices are beneficial because they allow people to create based on shared energy and purpose. When communicating why it is necessary to return to the office, make sure employees understand these benefits.

Explain the company’s mission and how it helps create value for customers. Let employees know how their work contributes to the organization’s overall success by providing examples.

Person walking with a briefcase and PPE mask.

Create a Powerful vision

You can successfully manage change by creating a compelling vision of how the future will look. Think about your long and short-term goals. Paint a vivid picture for employees so they will know what to expect.

Design your vision around the concepts of now, near and far. Provide a look at how things currently are, then give your team an idea of how this will shape immediate and distant outcomes.

Clarify expectations for returning to the workplace

Employees should know what to expect before returning to the office. Address how they are to enter the building each morning.

Tell employees what steps they need to take before beginning work. Let them know the number of people who can ride the elevator and access the restrooms at once.

Details are necessary to help employees understand how to accomplish their work. As conditions change, keep them informed of what is taking place and how each item will affect the organization.

Change management requires constant strategizing. On average, organizations have taken on at least five major company-wide modifications in the last three years. This number will continue to increase even after COVID-19, so it’s crucial to build the best strategies you can now so you will continue to grow in the future.

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