Senior Client Partner, Global Human Resources Center of Excellence
5 People to Meet When You’re Back in the Office
It’s not easy, returning to the office after a two-year absence. It might even feel like your first day at a new job. Although most employees coming back to the office interacted with one another before March 2020, they’re stepping into a new environment now, experts say, one that has been impacted by both the pandemic and remote work.
“Everyone has to get to know each other again and find out what they’re trying to accomplish,” says Alyson Federico, a Korn Ferry Advance coach.
But in this period of reconnecting, who are the key people to see first? Whether you’re going into the office one day a week or five, experts say one-on-one time is a good way to find your footing. Here are five people to schedule that time with early on:
Make it a priority to meet with your manager to make sure you understand the big picture, any changes to the company’s mission, and any adjustments you may need to make, says Ron Porter, a senior client partner in Korn Ferry’s Global Human Resources Center of Excellence. Ask your manager about their work expectations now that the office has opened up. For instance, asks Korn Ferry Advance coach Lemise Dajani, does your manager expect you to come into the office several days a week? Can you schedule no-meetings days so you can focus on individual tasks? Can you work from home if your children are sick or school is canceled?
Your direct reports (if you have any)
Set up meetings with everyone you manage, including administrative staff. “Check in to see if they have any concerns coming back to the office that you can alleviate,” Dajani says. Find out what they hope to gain by being in the office, and figure out how to meet those expectations, she says. For instance, if they’re looking forward to professional development, work with other managers to provide skill-building opportunities. “Showing appreciation for the administrative staff will help build up rapport that may have gone stale while everyone was out of the office,” Dajani says.
Colleagues and peers
Make an effort to connect personally with your colleagues and peers. “We have been the most connected about work tasks and what we need to accomplish in these past two years, but we haven’t had a chance to connect on a personal level because Zoom is so transactional,” says Andrés Tapia, a senior client partner and Korn Ferry’s global diversity, equity, and inclusion strategist.
If your entire work team isn’t coming into the office on the same days, figure out how you will communicate daily, Federico says. That might mean continuing to check in virtually.
Key stakeholders and internal partners
Make time to meet with any colleagues in departments that work closely with yours. Find out what they need from your department now that some employees are back in the office. Ask how often your teams should meet, as well as how they can collaborate and support each other, Federico says.
New staff members
Every office has a number of employees who joined the company while everyone was working remotely. “While you may have gotten to know them over Zoom,” Dajani says, “it’s not the same as grabbing coffee and asking them more in-depth questions about themselves.”
Ask HR for a list of people who have joined the company since March 2020 and where they sit. Walk around and say hello, Tapia suggests. “You might not work with them directly, but when you’re a new person and you finally come into the office, it might feel lonely,” he says.