The Finance Leader Podcast

051: Returning Your Team to the Office

May 18, 2021 Stephen McLain Season 6 Episode 7
The Finance Leader Podcast
051: Returning Your Team to the Office
Show Notes Transcript

The inevitable return to working in the office is coming. Is your team ready? What planning do you need to do? What support do you need from your organization? Moving back to the office isn’t as simple as telling your team I’ll see you in the office tomorrow. You need a plan. Your organization also needs a plan. 

The following points are highlighted in the episode:

  1. What’s the plan for returning to the office?
  2. How will you prepare your team before going back?
  3. What support do you need from your organization?

For more resources, please visit On the website, you can download the Leadership Growth Blueprint for Finance and Accounting Managers. You can use this guide to develop your leadership by focusing on communication, and growing and empowering your team.

You can now purchase a course to help you advance your career from It's called Advance Your Finance and Accounting Career: Developing a Promotion Strategy that Sets You Apart.

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Stephen McLain:

This week I am talking about the inevitable return to working in the office that is coming. Is your team ready? What planning do you need to do? And what support you need from your organization? Moving back to the office isn't as simple as telling your team. I'll see you in the office tomorrow. You need a plan. Your organization also needs a plan. Please enjoy the episode. Welcome to the finance leader podcast where leadership is bigger than the numbers. I am your host Stephen McLain. This is the podcast for developing leaders in finance and accounting. This is episode number 51. And now we'll be talking about a few items you should be thinking about before your team returns to the office. And I'll highlight the following items. Number one, what's the plan for returning to the office? Number two, how will you prepare your team before going back? And number three, what support do you need from your organization? Albert Einstein said, the measure of intelligence is the ability to change. Now last week, I celebrated Episode Number 50, which was a review of the importance of developing our leadership skills. Episode 50 was a great review of the purpose of the finance leader Podcast. I am here for the finance and accounting professionals who want to grow their leadership skills, because I believe that leadership is critical to advancing your career. When you grow your leadership ability, you set yourself up to take on greater projects, and ultimately to progress to higher levels in the organization. In addition to improving your leadership, I also encourage you to strengthen your mindset. So you can accomplish your goals. And you are prepared to handle adversity. And ultimately, you get to display your potential for greater responsibility. This week, we are talking about when we will return to the office. Now some companies have already returned. I know. Now what started out as just a few weeks at home last year, to overcome the pandemic turned into an experience that has lasted over 14 months and counting. And we have changed. You all did an amazing job dealing with insane and Unreal conditions. But eventually your team will be asked to return to the office. And what planning do you need to do? What support do you need? And what questions do you ask? Now as leaders, we need to be flexible, adaptive, and empathetic as we return. Not all of your team members will be enthusiastic to go back to the office environment. They will be thinking about health safety, and also have children returned to school. I know some schools have returned. And the objective is to get children back into school. But I don't think all schools have reopened or have a plan to reopen. Now, this episode is not an indictment against returning to the office. But I'm asking you as leaders to consider many things and find out what your organization's plan is. And then communicate that to your team. When we are forced home due to the pandemic, how we accomplish our work was not the same. You may have had a team that already did work from home. But everything changed. After the pandemic happened. You cannot just have a get together or an in person meeting or event. Now, if you had a team that did work from home before, you could have everybody come in for a meeting if you need to. But that changed, the pandemic changed. The pandemic changed how we accomplished our work, and how we got things done as a team, you had to complete everything via email, phone or zoom if you needed to coordinate with someone, if you needed to meet with someone, it was through distance. Now as you move to the office, you will be in person with people that you haven't seen in a while probably. And you'll all have new habits and maybe some anxieties. How will you handle this change? How will you shape your team's culture? Now I have seen two companies recently in the news talk about their return to the office, Google announced that they will return to the office probably this summer, and will probably use a hybrid model. I saw an article published on Forbes this month in May, outlining Google's plan for returning to the office. Now Google expects about 60% to return to their previous office space and about 20% will return to a new office space and for about 20% to stay working at home just as they have been. The goal initially is to work a few days in the office and then the rest of the time back at home. Google believes that problems are better solved within person groups, like in a cafe setting or around a white Bored. It's an interesting perspective, because I like that process of problem solving. Google wants to get back to in person group setting, so they can solve problems in those type of environments, like in a cafe, drinking some coffee, solving a problem, going in a room getting around a whiteboard, and diagramming the problem diagramming the solution. I like that too. Because it's what I experienced for years in the Army, you get a group of people together, and you sketch out the problem, the real problem and find out what the real problem is, and then what course of action to take to solve it. Maybe you need multiple courses of action, now getting together around a whiteboard, or a piece of paper on a table while drinking coffee. It works. And it's not as easy when everyone is remote, because you have technology challenges, and being remote is so impersonal. Now, another company in the news is JP Morgan, their CEO believes that JP Morgan lost out on business, because they were not doing in person meetings, while their competitors were conducting in person meetings with potential clients in person meetings are very powerful, you get to make a strong connection, you get to evaluate better if you can trust someone. So the JPMorgan CEO wants his team back to the office environment. So they can conduct a business as it was before the pandemic. It'll be interesting to see how that all plays out at JP Morgan, and also at Google. Now, these two examples are not delay the case for returning to work. But to illustrate that returning to work for most people is going to happen, and you need a plan to do it. Right. That is where leadership comes in. What can you do to plan and prepare your team as you are asked to return to the office environment. Now let's talk about a few key points about returning to the office. And the first question is, what's the plan for returning to the office? What will your organization require? Now, based on your local laws? Can a company require full vaccination? I don't know. It depends on where you live, and what the government allows concerning medical privacy. But this is something to think about and ensure you follow the law. Also, will you be wearing a mask? Will social distancing still be in effect? Will your office cafeterias be opened? Or will you be asked to consider other options? And will there be limits on elevator capacity? And what about sanitation and office cleanup procedures? This is another interesting question. Do fully vaccinated team members have a different level of privilege? If in fact, they get to reveal the vaccination status? And if it's not against the law, wherever you live, there are many questions to consider and ask before returning. And another big question is right away Will you all be expected to return to five days a week are you going to be going from full time working from home back to five days a week in the office? If it was up to me, I would encourage a gentle easing back to the office. Once the order is given maybe two to three days a week at first, you know, for at least the first month or so. I would also talk with each team member to ask the comfort level of returning to the office. Everyone is different. Everyone's health is different in their family situations are different. So please be extremely flexible and adaptive to helping your team transition back be flexible with each person as they come to terms with getting back to normal whatever that is. And that is in addition to considering what the company's policy is going to be. So start to ask questions, start to find out what the company is going to be requiring as you return back. And number two, how will you prepare your team before returning back? What do you need to do to prepare your team for in the office working in? This is your big chance to shape office culture properly. As you all return? What does everyone need to relearn office etiquette for sure. And cleanliness procedures. The Office etiquette for a post pandemic work experience is definitely something you're going to have to think about. How will people interact in person going forward? Now what about social events? Are they off the table still, I believe that people will not act the same when together again. So please adjust your own expectations. At first, it will take time for everyone to adjust. So take it easy and be supportive. Get your mindset ready to be flexible and adaptive. Now will you race back to where it was before? Not really hopefully. But try easing into getting back to working in person again and be patient and flexible going forward. Now what support do you need from your organization? What does your organization need to do to help your team succeed? Will the facilities be the same? What about common areas like break rooms and coffee pots? What policies will be different? Are you going to have access to coffee pots? Will you be allowed to ride in the elevator like before All crammed in, or will take in the elevator be more challenging? Well, there'll be capacity limits, that's gonna affect how people come and go in the building. If there's going to be a capacity issue, you're going to see fewer people move during lunchtime. And during break time. The most important aspect of support is that do you have flexibility as a leader to determine the best workflow for your team or department. That means where people work and what hours they work. And this is important to Team culture and overall team success, your team needs to know that the organization still cares, and that you care for their safety, security, growth and future opportunities. Now, will the office space be supportive and adaptive during and after the transition back? Also, do contracted services need to be restarted? Or reviewed that supported your team and supported the floor and supported what department you're in? What do you need in place to support your team? Ultimately, this is a trust issue. Trust will be lost if steps are not taken to provide a safe environment and environment ready to support a lot of people in the same space. And that takes leadership and clear communication to get it right. Don't leave your people in the dark, tell them what's going on. Communication is always key to trust, and ultimately, to achieving positive results. So I encourage you to get ahead of these issues. Find out what is going on. Because your team will have questions, so be ready for them. That's leadership. Now for an easy one today. Do you know when your organization will return to the office? If you do? Do you have a plan for your team? Will you all return starting five days a week? Or will some team members continue to work from home? What is your plan? What is your organization's plan? What is your expectation? What kind of issues do you think your team members are going to ask you? Now the answers will help you shape your own plan and best prepare your team to return back to the office. I have a free guide for you. It's called the leadership growth blueprint for finance and accounting managers. In the guide I talk about three leadership areas communication, team growth, and empowerment. Plus a few recommendations around challenges with the systems you are probably using to complete your work. The link to the guide is in the episode description. Or you can go to Stephen McLain calm. Please use it to help you with a few leadership wins today. Thank you. So this episode is sponsored by my course through finance leader Academy. It's called advance your finance and accounting career developing a promotion strategy that will set you apart. To advance your career you must set yourself apart from your peers, finance and accounting professionals are already expected to be technically competent. This course helps you establish your professional Foundation, and how you can set yourself apart from your peers. by growing your leadership skills and developing your executive presence. You can go to Stephen McLain calm for more details on this career advancement course. The link is also in the show notes with this episode. Thank you. Now today I talked about returning to the office and highlighted the following points. Number one, what's the plan for returning to the office? Number two, how will you prepare your team before going back? And number three, what support do you need from your organization? The return to the office will bring a few challenges. But go through your planning process. Ask questions about how your organization will support the transition and be flexible, be empathetic. Find out who isn't going to be able to come in right away. Do this some very important reasons like health safety or high risk medical reasons and childcare challenges. Figure out how to help the entire team. There will be a few team members who will be extremely happy about being back no doubt that will happen. And there will be a team member too. Who will not want to return. What will your company's policy be? So be prepared. One last thought Where are you on your goal progress. Continue to update your individual development plan. As you complete a goal or improve a skill or complete a training and share you annotate your IDP. your IDP is a working document. It's never complete, just updated continually. So keep going with your goals and don't quit. Next week I will be talking about your team's workload and prioritization and how it affects productivity, results development and team culture. I can't wait to share. I hope you enjoyed the finance leader Podcast. I am dedicated to helping you grow your leadership because it is leadership that will set you apart from your peers. You can get this episode wherever you find podcasts. Until next time, you can check out more resources at Stephen McLain calm and sign up for my updates so you don't miss an episode of the show. And now to lead your team and I'll see you next time. Thank you