After what felt like far more than a year and a half, many organizations are finally beginning to transition back to the office. But few, if any, are going back to the way things were. 

COVID-19 erased the rulebook that dictated how, where, and when people worked. Over the past 16 months, teams and businesses have experienced the benefits of flexible schedules and work-from-home models — and now the best talent wants to work at a place that offers more freedom.

Organizations that don’t accept the new normal are likely to struggle when it comes to hiring the best applicants. The good news is that it’s not too late to transition to a hybrid model that works for you. It’s a process that begins at the very foundation of your culture. 

Successful Transitions Start with Culture

Great leaders don’t micromanage. Instead, leaders put their energy into defining what success looks like and giving their teams the tools, resources, and support to achieve that success. Moving to a remote work model doesn’t mean leaders lose the ability to connect with their teams. If anything, they’re demonstrating a solid understanding of what it takes to move forward with everyone’s interests in mind. 

“To put it bluntly, we hire adults and we treat them like adults. We do not hire people to hold their hand,” says Chris Ihrig, FiredUp! CEO. 

How Leaders Guide Teams Through Transition

In times of instability, there’s a tendency to feel like things haven’t been very productive. The risk is jumping back into something without having a plan and then dealing with the loss in efficiency. 

Times of instability often compel businesses to try too hard to maintain the status quo. But right now, rushing to get back to the way things were may cost you valuable team members and overall efficiency. Leaders must focus on getting the economy, the strategy, and the plan in place, then going to work. 

Here are a few ways leaders can start back up to ensure that when they do get to work, they’re ready. 

Set clear expectations — Times of transition are difficult, but leaders can ease transitional growth pains through clear expectations. “Make sure everybody understands where we’re going, why we’re going there, and what their role is in that process,” says Ihrig. 

Communicate, communicate, communicate — With more remote workers and virtual Zoom meetings, extra communication is an absolute necessity. 

Be an active manager — Everyone’s been through a lot. Now is the time when leaders need to be extra vigilant about making sure their teams are doing well. Are people leaning into the job or backing away and showing symptoms of feeling overwhelmed? Check in often and ensure everyone has the support they need to make their transition smooth. 

Remember, these things take time. Turn the faucet on too quickly and you could easily overwhelm your teams. Remember to be patient, take it slow, and allow the space necessary for a proper reset before its “full steam ahead.” 

Want to do more than just transition? Find out how to use this time to reset your entire culture, starting with you. Download our free resource:  The Innovative Leader’s Guide to Transforming Company Culture.