3 min read

As we enter a new phase of the pandemic, with vaccines more readily available and more states “reopening,” we are standing squarely at the gateway between one world and the next. Many of us are feeling anxious, and with good reason.

After all, the systems we live within are still broken. We don’t want to return to that “normal.” We’re also human—craving connection, reprieve, and a little more certainty. As managers, it’s our job to lead our teams forward from crisis to reinvention, while balancing or even harnessing tensions. A year ago, we were all forced into change without much time to prepare. Now, we have the opportunity to choose the changes we want to make. And it all starts with questions.


Start by looking back on lessons during the pandemic. Use the questions below for self-reflection, or bring them to your next team meeting to debrief and reflect together.

  • How did we, as a team or organization, live into our values, mission, and commitment to racial equity during this period? Where/what could we have done better?
  • What are examples of my staff demonstrating our organizational values and driving results during this period? How did I support them?
  • What new things did we try that worked? What did we try that has potential to work with more time or infrastructure behind it?
  • What did we let go of that we missed? How can we bring it back?

(Re)invest in people

With high turnover expected in 2021 and more workplaces offering flexible work environments, it’s important to invest in your team now. Here are two ways to do it:

  • Make sure you ask for and weigh staff needs in your reopening plans. Use our expanded staff survey tool to gather updated input, or use the survey questions to anchor your check-ins. Once you’ve gathered staff input, ask yourself:
    • What differences along lines of race, gender, sexual orientation, family status, disability, age, or position do I notice in staff preferences or needs?
    • What reopening policies and practices will support the most equitable outcomes for staff?
    • What crisis stop gaps—such as support for parents and caregivers, BIPOC staff, and employees with health/access concerns related to the pandemic—could we formalize to create more belonging, inclusion, and work-life balance for our team?
  • Have “stay” conversations or make space in your next check-in to: appreciate your staff member for their strengths and accomplishments, ask how they’re really feeling about their role, and give them an opportunity to share what would help them feel excited to stay in their role and at your organization.

Get Started: Survey Questions for Staff Input on Reopening and Redesign


There is no one-size-fits-all plan for reopening offices, developing remote/hybrid work models, or deciding when to host in-person events. Each organization needs to balance local guidelines, costs, staff and stakeholder needs, and strategic program questions, especially as we navigate new COVID outbreaks. Use our 5-Box Scenario Planning Tool to start your future planning. The tool works just as well for small decisions, like whether to return three days per week, as it does for big decisions, like whether to move to a permanent remote or hybrid model.

Here are a few resources that might help with planning and communication:

Want to hear from other organizations about their reopening plans, policies, and considerations? Join our new #redesign-reopening channel on Slack. To join, fill out this form.

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