A considered return to the physical office


LegalMind’s working expert, Rowena Hennigan, shares some tips to help you plan a phased return to the physical office.

Unlike the shock of being thrown into the deep end of Covid-19, this transition back will be different. There is notice, more time to plan and, in most cases, it can be a staged process. So what is needed in terms of planning and preparation?

Five tips to plan your approach

  1. Take the time needed to transition back. The return to the physical office will be in stages so there is more time to prepare - be intentional, both on an individual, manager and corporate level before rushing to make the biggest changes.
  2. Build in time to reflect and process the recent months. Many employees were left reeling during the period of crisis response. Therefore, many will welcome the opportunity to discuss openly what has happened. Enabling these conversations may also highlight positives and operational improvements which can be harnessed and built upon.
  3. Continued empathy and understanding is key. Considering the above, fatigue may have set in. Many solicitors are craving holidays or a break from the tough routine of the lockdown, which was compounded by personal Covid-19 related stressors. It's a reminder to managers and leaders to extend their expression of empathy and understanding to their teams. Enabling the supports needed and encouraging work-life balance where possible will be important.
  4. Learn lessons and celebrate success. Conduct a formal review of operational processes during the working-from-home period, documenting successes and challenges. This will provide a foundation for your back to the office plan and/or potential hybrid model. Alternatively, do a retrospective on a specific case file or project phase with the relevant team members involved. A “snapshot” review analysis will enable a better view of what did and didn’t work during the period. Also on an individual level, encourage employees to assess learnings gained during the period. Don't forget to acknowledge what has worked and celebrate it!
  5. Wellbeing is still paramount. One thing is certain over these coming months; change will be a constant. Continuing to emphasise the importance of wellbeing will bolster this next phase and sustain its success as workers feel empowered to reach out, request help and strive to maintain individual work-life balance.

LegalMind is an independent, low-cost mental health support for Law Society members and their dependants.


This article originally appeared in the June 2020 member eZine. For more information, and to subscribe, visit eNewsletters.