Building for the Future – Planning for Recovery & Returning to Work

Our normal has changed. So will the way you run and manage your team and workplace

This free downloadable Word Document guide is designed to help your leadership team prepare and lead your team through recovery. In this guide, we’ll cover,

  1. A checklist for returning to work.
  2. Identify shifts you’ve adopted that you’ll make permanent.
  3. A free downloadable worksheet to create a strategic roadmap for recovery.
  4. How to reset work agreements and norms.
  5. A free downloadable template to create a “Ways of Working” poster for your office.


Checklist to Return to Work

Consider the following dimensions, recognizing that your organization has specific requirements and staffing needs.

  • Clarify what shifts you are making permanent:

  • Decide on what you are making permanent and establish clear priorities.

  • Set workplace expectations and safety guidelines:

  • Publish New Working Agreements/Expectations. Establish clear expectations before shelter-in-place is lifted.

  • Set customer safety guidelines:

  • Determine and communicate what your customer safety guidelines will be.

  • Determine service hours and communication:

  • Establish scaled-back OR fully open hours. Update public communication materials that might communicate closure.

  • Clarify staff support:

  • Establish a clear mechanism or method for staff to reach out with concerns, struggles, and special considerations. It’s critical to support staff as they settle back into regular operations.

Shifts You’re Making Permanent

This crisis has result in significant and positive shifts to our business model. Many of these forced shifts can be permanent because they are a better use of resources, improved quality of life for staff or enhances benefits for your customers. Consider which of the following you will make permanent.

    Celebrate Adaptations

    Celebrate those job functions that had been sent home but are now able to come back to work and those that worked in different capacities to serve a need in this crisis. What can you celebrate? Consider which workplace practices and job duties will be changed.

    Flexible Schedules

    Consider supporting continued telecommuting/working-from-home where appropriate. What will you make permanent?

    Commit to Digital Delivery

    Continue digital delivery of services and processes where the outcomes for customers and staff are improved. What will you make permanent? Understandably not everything can be remote/virtual, but are there areas where you can reduce costs, environmental footprint, and simplify for everyone? Where work can be electronic, it should be.

    Eliminate Non-Value Adds

    Did you make reductions in extra, non-value-add steps in processes? What have you noticed? Are there non-value-add processes you could eliminate?

Worksheet – Strategic Roadmap to Adapt and Recover

Instructions: Modify and publish w/ your New Workplace Agreements.


Resetting Work Agreements and Norms

This crisis is forcing us to re-create our working agreements. Instead of assuming your organization is reverting back to pre-pandemic working environments, you need to clearly and deliberately reset your expectations.

#1 Establish Your Flexible Work Policy

Here are some prompting questions to answer as you create policies related to flexible/remote work. Most importantly: be clear and consistent. Remind staff flexible schedules are a privilege.

  • Work/Telework: Can your employees work a set number of hours/weeks remotely? What is the process of staggering remote employees with in-office employees? Is there a schedule to be implemented that outlines which employees are working from where every week?
  • Flexible Schedules: Are employees allowed to shift their schedules from the traditional hours of 9a-5p? Do you have a standard set of “bodies in front of desks” hours? Are employees allowed to request non-traditional hours and what is the process to do so?
  • Compressed Workweek: Can employees opt to work fewer longer days to enjoy an extra “weekend” day? What is the process for approving these requests?
  • PTO: What is the policy on PTO? Are employees allowed to take 1/2 days off without using PTO, or are the required to submit a PTO request if 1/2 day or more?? What is the process for requesting/approving PTO requests?
  • Expanded Leave: What is the policy on expanded leave if an employee gets sick, needs to care for a family member, take a sabbatical, or pursue education? What is the approval process?
  • Work and Family Programs: How are you supporting employees that need flexibility for childcare? What is the process for requesting and approving these schedules?

#2 Determine How You’ll Bring Employees Back

Consider staggering employees’ return and continue social distancing, travel restrictions and remote work support.

  • Slow re-entry: Consider leaving employees at home or delaying when you bring people back.
  • Shift re-entry: Bring employees back to work in stages. Schedule employees in shifts.
  • Reduce business travel: Maintain restrictions on noncritical travel and define what is/isn’t critical.
  • Provide a care package: Provide every employee with wipes and a mask.

#3 Reconfigure Your Physical Workspace

Rethink and reconfigure your physical workspace with the following guidelines. Here are some good visuals from WeWork.

  • Increase cleaning: Maintain/increase cleaning schedule for facilities and continue hygiene procedures.
  • Smaller meetings: Limit the number of people attending in-person meetings.
  • Move desks: Increase physical distance between individual workspaces.
  • Remove chairs: In conference rooms, leave one seat between each person. Designate which chairs are to be left empty or remove chairs in shared spaces.
  • Enforce 6-foot distance: Mark the floor in areas where staff or customers need to maintain 6 feet of distance. Think about 6 feet in terms of a yoga mat or a full arm span.

#4 Establish Workplace Safety Policies

Make it comfortable and clear that practices around social distancing, mask-wearing and shared space cleaning are the norm and expected. OSHA identifies the following job risk categories – Low, Medium, and High.

  • Low Risk: Jobs have no or infrequent close contact (within 6 feet) of people when it is unknown if they are Covid-19 positive (“the general public”). Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)is not recommended in low risk jobs.
  • Medium Risk: Jobs that require frequent or close contact (within 6 feet) with the general public. Additional PPE may be recommended.
  • High Risk: Jobs that require frequent close contact with individuals who are known or suspected to be infected with Covid-19. PPE is Recommended.

Tips to Help Staff Transition Back to Work

    Celebrate Adaptations

    Being back physically in the same space doesn’t mean communication levels should drop. Take your new proactive communication skills back to the office.

    Flexible Schedules

    Consider supporting continued telecommuting/working-from-home where appropriate. What will you make permanent?

    Commit to Digital Delivery

    After working from home where it’s (probably) quieter than your office, it may be frustrating to constantly have coworkers dropping by to chat. Block out time for uninterrupted focus and find a way to communicate those times to your coworkers or designate and use a quiet room.

    Make Your Desk Feel Like Home

    If you discovered a favorite coffee mug during your WFH time, it back to the office with you. Ditto for a blanket to be more comfortable, or a particular desk chair you prefer. Stock your desk drawer with easy-to-reach snacks.

    Stick to Your Routine

    If you got in the habit of working out early in the morning or taking mid-day walks, make the time during your in-office workday for it. If you’re in the habit of checking email first thing in the morning with a cup of coffee, don’t feel the need to switch it up with a return to the office.

    Learn to Enjoy Your Commute

    The best part of WFH may have been losing your commute. Instead of resenting your commute when transitioning back to the office, figure out a way to be productive or enjoy the time: knock out calls with coworkers (that don’t require computer screens), listen to a podcast, or simply enjoy some quiet time for reflection while commuting.

A Free Template to Create a Ways of Working Poster

Download the full word document template to create policies based on the guidelines provided. Modify the template and publish it within your organization!




What is 4 + 11 ?
Please leave these two fields as-is:
All fields are required.

Join 60,000 other leaders engaged in transforming their organizations.

Subscribe to get the latest agile strategy best practices, free guides, case studies, and videos in your inbox every week.

Keystone bright-path authority-partners iowa caa maw maryland mc kissimmee dot washoe gulf reno