One of the key frustrations that employees have identified with returning to the office is that they haven’t heard what the plans are.

I get that. As a leader, you want to have a plan that’s solid, one that’s been checked out and can be committed to your folks. Otherwise you might look flaky.

But you have to fight that urge. Your people deserve more respect and need to know what’s in the works before it’s totally solid. And you need their feedback.

Here’s an example: You’re considering asking everyone to be in the office on Monday, for their team weekly check-in meeting, and Wednesday because you’re feeling that more face-to-face contact will be useful than just once a week.

Being courageous, you decide to roll this out to your team. You get a lot of varied feedback:

  • Awesome! I so want to get back with everyone!
  • Remember, my contract says I don’t work on Mondays. Not gonna work.
  • Tuesday sure would be better for me than Monday.
  • Can I connect in via Zoom? I’m worried about my husband’s illness.

At first, this looks like sheer chaos. There’s no way to make everyone happy! And what is it that people AREN’T telling you?

If this is your committed plan, you may be in trouble. You might even lose some people if they find it personally unacceptable. After all, unemployment is low and there are plenty of other companies looking for good people.

But if you’re using this as a trial balloon, having not made the committed plan, you’re now making progress. You can talk with people about why face-to-face contact is important to rebuild the social bonds which have been lost. You can ask questions about how different sub-teams and job roles perhaps have different needs.

You might end up with a completely different solution. One that’s even better than your original idea.

And one that people buy into because they were involved in making the decision.