It took a generational event of almighty proportions, but supporters of flexible and remote working have seen their ambitions in action. Lessons have been learned; now it’s time for action.

Most would say that while challenging, the opportunity has been a resounding success. Some, like Morgan Stanley’s James Gorman, want staff back at their desks ASAP.

Few industries operate quite like the financial sector. For most bosses, they too have witnessed the improved productivity and balance that flexible working brings. However, it’s not time to shutter the offices just yet, and staff will return shortly. Here’s how to ensure a smooth transition.

Find Out What Your Staff Want First

Some of your employees will undoubtedly be overjoyed with their newfound freedom. However, others might still struggle with the idea of being their own manager day-to-day. The best way to establish the majority opinion is to ask!

Back when remote working initially became necessary, it was common to ask how people were getting on. Gradually, it became a new normal, and people stopped asking. The change would have been jarring for some, but people don’t take long to form new habits.

If you decide to dictate the return and expect to seamlessly pick up where you left off months ago, prepare to be disappointed. We’re in the new normal, and people have lost faith in the typical 9-5.

Reassess Your Business Priorities

We’ve all had plenty of time to think over the past few months and learned a lot. Management teams have seen firsthand what remote working means to them, their productivity, and profitability.

Don’t fixate on getting back to normal. Instead, embrace the new normal and ensure that lessons learned in the last year inform change. Consider who you need in the office each day. Try to organize tasks and projects around availability rather than the other way around.

It might mean a little extra admin work, but a little forward-planning goes a long way and stands every chance of keeping your employees as happy and motivated as ever.

Make Arrangements for Flexible Working

You’ll probably conclude that there’s no need for certain people to be there in person every day. As long as everyone is clear that flex days aren’t days off, they can get as involved as they need to, wherever they are.

Google has arranged Campfires – meeting spaces that accommodate employees whether attending physically or virtually. Of course, your workplace may not operate on quite the same terms as the search giant. Nevertheless, this kind of innovation can ignite enthusiasm in teams while promoting a work-life balance.

Above all, when designing your ‘return to the workplace’ plan, you want to let go of the past. Workers at every level of the organization have experienced challenges over the last 16 months. As Albert Einstein said, “in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

Getting back to work represents a once-in-a-lifetime chance to improve your culture. Companies that handle the transition with a fresh approach will set the tone. Employees will be happier and more productive. The business will become a far more appealing destination for top talent in a world where Glassdoor exists.

Great leaders question, innovate and seek positive change. There will never be a better opportunity to revolutionize your business and the lives of those that work there.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you design your return to the workplace plan.