Considerations For Reopening, Part 1: Perception

Concordia Consulting has created an ongoing blog series on the topic of when and how businesses might reopen, and we want to hear from you! What do you want your senior leaders to know? What are your greatest concerns about reopening your workplace and most importantly, what solutions do you have to offer?

This week I will address the optics (perception), of moving your employees back to the office while considering how others, both inside and outside of your organization, will respond.

Perhaps the first question to ask (and answer!) is does it make sense to return to your offices? How will your customers, patients, students, and the public feel about reopening? Will your organization win tons of business for being on the leading edge? Or will customers condemn you for overlooking your employees and potentially their uneasiness?

 If remote work has proven effective, what steps can you take to incorporate the advantages of recent changes into the new normal?

I have participated in three recent virtual meetings on the reopening topic and the exact same question has been asked each time: What will returning to the workplace accomplish?

It is imperative to answer that question fully as it informs all other questions and concerns. Defining the benefits will help to create a meaningful risk/benefit analysis.

If you have a board of directors, involve them in the process. If you have donors or patrons, include them in a task force, comprised of staff from various departments and representing employees at all levels. Simply starting the task group is giving notice that you are considering reopening options, gathering input, encouraging participation, and thereby increasing the chances of buy-in from all sides.

 The answers regarding reopening will be different for all of my clients, for sure. What is most important is how the decision is made, involving multiple perspectives in the decision making, and realizing that this decision is perhaps the greatest your organization will ever make in terms of defining your workplace culture.

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