As you call people back to the office, you may have a hard time figuring out how strongly to demand that everyone follows the same rules.

There are so many variables! Nature of job tasks, desire for people to connect face-to-face, costs, sanitizing requirements, and so on.

What it comes down to is this: You want to have enough flexibility so that everyone feels reasonably productive, comfortable and supported.

For the last ten years when I worked with a large global company, many times all of my teammates and work connections were remote. So I was quite familiar with the Zoom Thing before it was a thing.

I found that I developed a pattern of sometimes working at home, sometimes at the office, and some days I had a weird schedule where I would do some of both. It was a huge help when I’d have to attend a meeting at 9pm my time, and I was grateful to be able to stay home to do that.

Not so different from what we’ve experienced for the last year, perhaps!

That worked well for me because of my job and team. But I also realized that it was important to be in the office for physical meetings, and not rely just on the technology. I was grateful that my family situation allowed this flexibility.

What’s happened during the pandemic is that peoples’ life situations, and work patterns, have settled into something new. So it takes time to readjust to new requirements. In addition, different people still have different feelings and requirements around vaccination safety. We have to respect that.

Here’s the best approach I’ve found:

  1. Clearly identify the requirements of your organization regarding people returning to the office (driven by regulations, customer needs, and team effectiveness) – this should be as short and compelling a list as possible
  2. Think through how these affect each team in the organization – each may have its own unique requirements and priorities
  3. Check to make sure you aren’t imposing extra requirements which aren’t needed – this is just unnecessary inflexibility
  4. Communicate not only your decisions, but the compelling drivers and logic behind them
  5. Address special cases privately, including a manager or supervisor as appropriate, with a light to balancing the needs of the organization with the needs of the individual

It’s not complicated or surprising, but a thoughtful approach should help you bring back an engaged and productive team!