Success Stories

Managing the Transition Back

A nimble, practical approach to planning for safe re-entry

As we adjust to a world with COVID-19, businesses are facing a constant stream of new and evolving public health guidelines and local restrictions for the health and safety of employees, customers, and overall supply chains. Many of us are struggling to consume all the information, let alone engage the right people to develop and implement action plans to get employees back to work, customers served, and facilities operational.

Given the dynamic nature of the current environment, you need more than just a project plan. You need a nimble and flexible “playbook”.

Build Your Playbook

First, it helps to put some structure around what variables you need to plan for and around – primarily your employees, customers, and facilities.

Covid Playbook

Second, consider your company’s culture and values, compliance expectations, and appetite for risk:

  • Culture: What cultural norms are your employees and customers accustomed to?  How will those be reflected in any changes to the employee and customer experience?
  • Values: What elements of your company’s values should be incorporated to stay true to the employee value proposition?
  • Compliance: What new processes and rules are a mandatory expectation of employment? Which guidelines can allow for some leniency?
  • Risk: What hard lines do you need to draw in terms of risk?  What are the legal, risk management, and HR implications?

Once you have this laid out, you are ready to start getting tactical.

Note that it is perfectly okay for this to be somewhat vague or blurry. You need to be flexible in order to respond to the changes that will continue to occur.

Define Re-Entry Phases

Next, you have to assume that getting the organization back to work is a multi-phase process. It’s likely that different parts of the organization will be in different phases at the same time. In addition, you need to be ready to move forward and backward as the situation improves or regresses.

We recommend segmenting your business by location and/or work stream. While you may need a combination of elements, we encourage you to keep it as simple as possible. Next, you should examine what is done on-site and what can be done remotely.

Flesh Out the Workplan

With this foundation defined, you can start the real work of re-entry:

  • Management and co ordination of work streams
  • Tracking dependencies and action items
  • Enabling change and communications
  • Managing expectations for employees and customers
  • Executing an overall reopening approach to re-entry.

Evaluate Old Norms and Assumptions

Lastly, you might have noticed we never say anything about getting “back to normal”. That is because getting back to the old normal may not be possible, or desired. Instead, many organizations are re-evaluating old norms and assumptions about office space, remote working, and physical interactions. They are looking to redesign the interplay of employees, process and technology enablers with an eye toward creating a more sustainable, resilient, and customer-focused business.

Ask for Help

Knowing what needs to be done and having the capacity to do it are two different things, which is why so many of us are stressed out right now. Few of us were prepared to tackle the workplace implications of quarantine and re-entry. And even fewer of us want to build a competency in it. So asking for help to provide leverage and add capacity to manage reopening tasks may be the right approach for your organization.


Christina Sansone and Lauren Croucher are bringing their extensive program management and change enablement experience to help clients navigate the disruption of COVID-19 and prepare for re-entry and a new normal.

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