A Roadmap for Re-Entry

Return to Work

By Mark Samuel

As the spread of coronavirus slows and re-entry begins, one of the questions most organizations are asking is: Do we go back to normal as quickly as possible, do we make minor changes to adapt to the new environment, or do we use this as an opportunity to transform and update our organization to better match our values and ideals?

Having so many questions might be uncomfortable, but having more questions than answers is actually a good place to be. When you rush to find answers, you are likely trying to use old thinking to solve new problems, leaving you at risk for becoming stuck and even obsolete. The key isn’t to find the right answers; the key is to know the right questions to ask. Following are three steps to optimizing re-entry for any organization:

Step 1: Learning from the Virtual Environment and Effects of COVID-19

Take advantage of the many changes you’ve had to go through the past few months and ask yourself as many questions as you can think of. You can start with these:

  1. In what ways did we gain and lose efficiency and effectiveness by having a virtual environment?
  2. What were the competencies of leaders who adapted well to a virtual environment? How will those competencies be maintained after re-entry?
  3. How did teamwork improve during the pandemic, and how will those behaviors and attitudes be maintained after re-entry?
  4. How have our customers changed the way they engaged with us during this time?

Step 2: Creating an Outcome-Driven Plan

When creating any plan for your organization, it’s important to align leadership around a purpose and desired outcomes. In a situation full of uncertainty such as re-entering the workplace during and after a pandemic, many people will have varying opinions about the best way to go.

In order to avoid getting lost in so many good ideas, come up with just 3-5 priorities and focus on those. If you try to get too much done at once, you are setting yourself up for failure and/or quality sacrifice. The best way to get it all done is to start with the most important priorities.

Step 3: Scenario Planning & Proactive Recovery Plans

We don’t know what the immediate future holds, let alone the most distant future. Instead of trying to develop and follow the perfect plan for re-entry, do some scenario planning based on possible constraints and opportunities. Imagine and prepare responses for the most likely scenarios.

Even if you plan well, breakdowns are bound to occur. Proactive Recovery Plans are the best way to address these things before they happen. Have your team of leaders identify the most likely and different kinds of breakdowns that could occur during re-entry implementation and have your approach to responding prepared. Make sure your responses are solution-oriented, cross-functional, and without blame.


I hope this gives you a good place to start so that your organization finds success in re-entry. If you’d like further support on re-entering the workplace, you can view our 4-part series here.