Rebuilding your work environment post-pandemic is going to be a big challenge! Sure, you have to work around government regulations and community rules. You’ll put cleaning regimens in place and spacing requirements.

But that’s the easy part. People are always much harder.

The problem is that each person has their own requirements, unique comfort levels, and new work patterns developed over the course of a year.

Your challenge, as a leader, is to try to maximize the results and happiness of the team as a whole, while addressing individual needs. If you don’t get a good balance, you may lose some of your best people.

I’ve heard stories of employees who moved 500 miles away, in the hopes that their employer would eventually realize that remote work can be just as effective. But also, peoples’ family situations have changed, with kids or parents moving in or moving away.

Not to mention that many people have become comfortable with their home office, setting up a situation which is very effective for them.

You’re going to have a tough time explaining that they should upend their lives AGAIN just because you believe there are some intangible team benefits.

How do you work through this? First, you have honest one-on-one conversations with each and every employee, to understand their current situation and desires for the future. You’re especially attuned to how important colleague in-person contact is for them, and comfort with the current structure. You’re listening for their balance between the needs of the one versus the needs of the many, and the effectiveness of the organization.

I expect that most of you will come up with models which are FAR more flexible than we ever would have envisioned back in 2019. You’ll be letting people set their own work hours, decide on the fly whether to attend meetings in person or virtually, and use their own tools in places where standardization isn’t critical.

But I also expect that this will make for healthier, more energized organizations, and a boom in business results.

You just have to learn new leadership skills.