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Workplace Reentry: Don’t Throw the Champagne Out with the Cork


Tara Carcillo & Jason Miller

Date Published

May 20, 2021
4 minute read

Last March, many of us closed the doors to our offices thinking we’d be back in a few weeks – tops. Fast forward to more than a year later, and most of us haven’t been back. That sudden shift meant organizations – The Clearing included – had to identify on the fly how to maintain ties among team members, retain unique company cultures, and continue to deliver great work and value to customers.


Before the pandemic, 17% of U.S. employees worked from home 5 days or more per week, a share that increased to 44% during the pandemic. –


A year later, companies and leaders alike are seeking guidance on managing their current remote environment, as well as planning for the transition back into a physical workplace or hybrid approach. From polling employee preferences to leveraging new resources and training, we’re all grappling with the same question – how to balance business needs with our employees’ wellbeing.

One such organization, Running Remote, has been focused on helping leaders get the most out of their remote teams since before the pandemic, and is now in its fourth year of hosting the world’s largest remote work conference. We’re thrilled to have two of our firm’s leaders – President and CEO Tara Carcillo and Director Jason Miller – leading panels.

Over the last year, we’ve challenged ourselves to find the most effective ways to bring our people-first approach to consulting and culture to life in virtual and hybrid environments. (Click to see how we helped one client thrive in a virtual environment.) We can’t wait to hear how others are doing the same.

As a sneak peek, we asked our Workplace and Resilience experts for their advice to leaders as people begin to step back into the office after a year away. Here’s what they said:

  • “Be careful with your language. This is not a return to normalcy or new normal. It also isn’t a return to work – everyone has been working, just not in the physical office.” In other words, don’t discount everything that’s happened in the past year simply because it didn’t happen in the office.
  • “Don’t put too much emphasis on remote work during Covid being a measure of how successful or unsuccessful remote work can be for your organization. Remember, this was a shift made out of necessity, not detailed planning.” Like we’ve all heard and felt a million times, 2020 was an unusual year.
  • “Protect the ‘new edges’ of the workday.” Despite the difficulties, remote work added flexibility into a lot of people’s lives – walks at lunch, more time with kids, etc. The 9 to 5 work schedule may now be an artifact of the past.

While many of us are ready to pop the champagne and celebrate, remember: don’t throw the champagne out with the cork. Sure, the sudden shift to virtual made work-life balance tough, but we learned a lot, too – and some of those new ways of working should stick regardless of the work environment. The trick will be easing back in, taking the time to apply those lessons in ways that work best for your organization, and putting your people at the center of those decisions.