A Return to the Office

by Sarah Buccigross

In March 2020, small government finance offices across the country were faced with difficult decisions on navigating the rising concern of the global pandemic. The matter of utmost importance was employee health and safety, but quickly following that were concerns on keeping processes flowing. Whether offices decided to work remotely, stay in-office, or combine the two, our ways of doing business internally and externally changed overnight.

As the world begins to reopen, it is becoming increasingly apparent that some things may have irreversibly changed, and we may need to adapt some of our habits to the "new normal." For those of us who chose to work remotely, coming back into the office presents a challenge in and of itself. The working dynamic of the shared office space was interrupted, and being prepared for this challenge could prove difficult.

There are a few items we may all want to consider as our employees return to the office. First, it's important that we continue the message that our staff's health and safety remain a priority. Continuing to provide masks, additional cleaning, and hand sanitizer can help to combat anxiety. Second, many people have changed their work schedule, processes, and environment to best suit their remote work experience. In order to foster a productive workspace in the office, it may be beneficial to offer flex scheduling, update processes, or talk through things that were implemented at home that could be brought into the workplace.

Lastly, communications between staff may have been via email/zoom/phone for over a year now. Allowing our staff to readjust to in-person communication by incrementally returning to the office could help to keep those relationships strong. Communications to and from those outside of our offices have also changed. It will be essential to keep in mind that many other offices and vendors had different ways of managing the pandemic, and some may continue to remote work indefinitely. Determining the best way to communicate with those external contacts will allow us to avoid delays.

As we all establish our ways of handling this return to the office, it will be great to share ideas, best practices, and tips. Please email your thoughts to Mark Mack.