What Bosses Really Think About Returning to the Office
Many employers say they don’t expect their returning employees to do the same thing they did before the pandemic, but are hesitant to say what they hope it will be like and aren’t sure what they should be expecting from their returning employees.
When I asked the experts to discuss these changes, here’s what they told me:
“Many of our returning workers are worried about not being able to return to the work they loved,” says Richard Schlichtinger, an author and psychologist from Arizona State University, who has been a working therapist for over 40 years. “The idea of going back to a job they hated, a job they could not communicate with, a job that was physically isolating and lonely, is very frightening for some of our returning workers. It’s very stressful.”
“Our returning worker needs to be able to focus on what is most important to him/her,” Schlichtinger says. “The most important thing our returning worker can focus on is their own needs, and their own life needs, and their own future. The main thing to remember in a post-pandemic world is that they are going to get to live out the next few years of their life in the future. They need to make good use of this time. That is a very tough adjustment that they may not be very good at.”
Dr. Schlichtinger recommends focusing on the strengths of a returning worker. “If you were coming back to a job that was challenging and difficult, would you want to return to that job and accept the challenges without trying to develop new interests in your life?” Schlichtinger asks. “If you go back to work with that same outlook and attitude, you will bring more of that attitude down to the workplace. You will have a chance to really connect with your co-workers; you will have a chance to really be yourself among your coworkers.”
“Employers should focus on strengths of employees, not weaknesses,” says Julie Janssen, the vice chair of HR for Folsom Lake, a human resources consulting firm specializing in employer relations and talent strategy. “If they have strengths, that will be the most important thing for them to do when they return to work. When