Returning to the Workforce

July 17, 2020

Hesitant about bringing your team back to the office? You’re not alone.

As mentioned in our Return to Work Vlog series this week, unemployment hit 25% during the peak of COVID and as of June 2020, dropped to 11.1% according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Obviously, these numbers are a sure sign that our workforce is on the rebound and economic activity is moving in the right direction, but there are still many questions around our new workforce norm as we approach corporate decisions of returning to the office post COVID-19 (if your company has not done so already).

Although many large tech companies (Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc.) have informed their employees of an anticipated return at the end of 2020, others have their plan on a transitioned return over the next few months. CNBC conducted a survey with executives at firms across many sectors of the economy. According to the results, 50% of the respondents stated their in-office expectation is to have their teams back by September of 2020. Although returns will be voluntary for many workers, this post Labor Day goal is on schedule for half of the US big businesses.

What do we expect to see from our workforce as we return to the office?

Re-entry Anxiety: Many “return to work” plans have been created for a safe re-entry with both operational and logistical arrangements being properly accounted for. The one thing that is missing within most plans are the employee’s emotional well-being … which should not be ignored. Employees understand that a return to their new office norm is inevitable for most, but they need time to prepare for it. Be transparent on your re-entry plans. Communicate this information timely so they can digest and get prepared for the transition. Allow them the ability to ask questions and express concerns before they are required to show up. COVID has impacted everyone in different ways, so be ready for all implications as you re-enter yet another transition of this pandemic.

Productivity: Many companies have seen an uptick in productivity with their remote workforce. In fact, Prodoscore (an employee visibility software), revealed that overall productivity has actually risen by 47% in 2020. Within a recent analysis, they reported a 230% increase in telephone calling, 176% increase in CRM usage, 57% increase in email activity, and 9% increase on chat messages. With all of this said, it’s worthy of your time to monitor your internal productivity to see how your performance is tracking. Productivity if certainly based on many factors, but the emotional effects of this pandemic trends differently with each person and the transition back into the office will affect productivity in one way or another.

Choice and Flexibility: Offer options and flexibility to your employees as office re-entry becomes closer. There is no doubt, employees will have real concerns about the return. Obviously, in-office safety is a huge factor, but the overlying anxiety and mental preparation plays a large part. The CDC offers many resources in coping with these emotions, but offering choices for your workforce return will help ease the transition.

Leadership Training: Because management teams will be coming back to heightened team dynamics, it is important to provide solid training and resources during the transition. Playbooks, roadmaps, and detailed safety measures must be understood by all members of your team well before the date of return. The Center for Creative Leadership has developed many valuable resources, white papers, and thought provoking ideas to prep your leadership team for a seamless return. Bottom line, your leaders must prepare to manage the evolving uncertainties of the return with safety, trust, transparency, and clear communication at the center of each manager/employee relationship.

Although there are many factors to maintaining operational stability during these uncertain times, we must also realize how many lessons we have learned through this journey. Teams have come together, relationships have strengthened, and organizations have witnessed some amazing capabilities of their workforce. Transformation has happened and although none of us wanted it to happen with this type of devastation, we must continue to grasp at the power of our collective humanity. We are in this together and whether it’s back in an office setting or a continuation of remote working; take each day as another learning experience.

Talascend is proud to be part of many workforce returns and welcome your thoughts. What tips would you offer other organizations as they plan for their teams to reunite?

About Talascend

Talascend is a Veteran Owned Business that is dedicated to the success of our nation’s civilian and veteran personnel. With over 73 years of staffing success, Talascend has been one of the most reliable and effective providers of strategic staffing solutions for clients serving multiple industry verticals needing top talent in engineering, technical, and skilled trade disciplines. Headquartered in Troy, Michigan, the Talascend companies have worked with some of the world’s largest and best known organizations on an extensive range of high-profile projects nationwide. If you are looking for a new career, or to grow your workforce, contact us today!