With vaccination efforts ongoing across the globe, and society slowly emerging from 18 months of lockdowns and social distancing, attention now turns to managing the return to normal.
For many business and managers, this will mean returning to the office. Indeed, a lot of us have already started doing so. But what management challenges will this present, and what does good management look like, post-pandemic?
It all starts with empathy, understanding, and adaptability. Let’s delve into it.
An Important Observation
The world hasn’t known a situation comparable to the current one since the influenza pandemic at the beginning of the 20th century. The Covid pandemic was new territory for our global economy, and coming returning to normal will be too.
So, while we can make assumptions about managing our way out of the pandemic, it’s difficult to predict everything a manager will need to do to get back to normal successfully.
So an important principle for managers right now, and in general, is be adaptable. Be proactive. Strive to observe how your office has changed, and do your best to understand the social dynamics, and professional obstacles that your employees might have.
Flexibility in Schedule
Being forced to work remotely for the past year has shown a lot of workers that they can have flexibility in their schedule. Whether that means working from home, or just personalizing their work day, many people have developed a new sense for when and where they can be productive.
And it’s something important to keep in mind. We don’t argue that everyone should work remotely now. Quite the contrary, millions of people across the world are happy to return to the office. Rather, we think good managers should make room for their employees to do their best work. Whether that means working fully remotely, having a hybrid model similar to that of Google, or coming back to the office for a normal 9 to 5, the decision shouldn’t be made based on what you think is best for your company.
Rather, you should involve your employees in the process. Have an open discussion of what working policy fits their, and your needs best. Create a working model that allows everyone to be as productive as possible.
If you’re worried about productivity when people are working remotely, that is a valid concern to have. Our homes are places of comfort, and it’s easy to get sidetracked from your work when the dogs, kids, and chores all need attending to. But it’s not like people can’t have a productive day working from home. So rather than prohibit it outright after the pandemic, set-up clear performance metrics, and track them. Set deadlines for tasks, and see if people can have the same performance at home, as they do at the office.
Of course, there is a caveat here. There are offices that require a lot of communication between members to create something valuable, or places where in-person communication with customers is unavoidable. In those cases, you can’t really have a remote only policy for your employees. But that doesn’t mean remote work is impossible all the time.
Default To Management Fundamentals
Principles that make a good manager haven’t changed because of the pandemic. Accountability, integrity, honesty, proactiveness and a default to problem-solving are just as important now as they were before the pandemic.
Being out of touch with your employees, and struggling with everything the pandemic brought to our society can have an impact on your skills. Sure, it’s obvious communication can be affected, since interaction between humans has been limited in the past year. But other skills may have suffered too. Discipline for example can also be harder to achieve with so many distractions, and a routine that can be interrupted by governmental regulations.
We recommend you look inwards. To be a good manager after the pandemic, don’t just think about what you can do for your employees. It’s just as crucial to analyze your own behaviour, skills, and schedule. Make sure you’re on top of your game, and the other challenges will be easier to overcome.
Look Back And Learn A Lesson
To be a good manager after the pandemic, look back on the past year, think about how your business adapted to different changes, and seek a lesson. That can be as simple as the cost of your office is not worth the money, or as complex as discovering a whole new market segment that you can reach through more investments in digital marketing.
Covid changed the way we do business. If you managed to stay afloat throughout the lockdown, and other governmental measures to limit the spread of the virus, there’s bound to be a way to improve how you work.
Worst case scenario, you just discover things that you know for sure won’t work for your business, and double down on something else.
Coming back to normal might be more difficult than we imagine. A change in work preferences, mental health obstacles, and societal trauma can make it harder to return to normal whether in our personal or our professional lives.
But if you approach coming back to normal with:
- A desire to offer flexibility in schedule
- A default to management fundamentals
- A desire to learn
You are best equipped to be a good manager after the pandemic.