Rethinking work

We have learned a great deal about alternatives to traditional work environments during the COVID-19 pandemic. Transitioning from an in-person to remote work environment in a short period of time was a logistical and operational challenge - but we succeeded.

Returning to campus does not mean we have to revert to how work was done previously. This is an opportunity to reflect on our successes and challenges, and rethink which of the methods adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic could be of benefit in the long term.

As a supervisor, consider how well your team has worked remotely:

  • Was remote work efficient? Did employees maintain or increase their productivity? What enabled them to do so?
  • How was collaboration and the sharing of work managed?
  • Were you able to communicate proactively with your team? What methods did you use? Did employees feel connected to their work?
  • What technical solutions supported operations during the COVID-19 pandemic? Could any of these continue? What would be the result?
  • Were you able to monitor your team’s work from a distance? What strategies could be implemented to enable effective performance management?
  • Is it feasible to consider ongoing work from home? What would be the impact on your colleagues, clients or operations?
  • Are there cost savings to be realized by implementing strategies used during the COVID-19 pandemic response on an ongoing basis?

Talk with your team and seek their input. Ask them:

  • How they feel work has changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic response.
  • Have the functions of their role changed? Refer to job fact sheets or position descriptions.
  • What worked during the COVID-19 pandemic? What didn't work?
  • Can they identify new ways of doing things?
  • What tools did they use for remote work that can be added to the permanent toolbox?
  • What do they need to be successful in their work?
  • Are they flexible in the way they work? Are they interested in continuing to work from home? Is that operationally feasible?
  • Could the office or workspace configuration be changed to enable better collaboration or productivity?
  • What can we do better now that we are back on campus?
  • Do policies, procedures, or processes need to be updated to incorporate a new way of working? Engage them in completing these updates.

Create opportunities for open communication and engagement. Share decisions and rationales. Clear, regular communication with your team is essential to navigating and adapting to change.