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How to Prevent Conflict When Returning to the Office

  • Posted by: Ellen Kandell
Over the last year-and-a-half, the way in which we work has completely changed. Most of us have experienced working in a virtual environment in some form or fashion. However, as we pivot toward a new normal, employees are returning to the office to conduct business face-to-face again. While organizations eagerly await a more personal way of collaborating, this close contact can be fertile grounds for misunderstandings and conflict.

This blog post will address three key tips on the factors you should consider when evaluating what the return to the office will look like.

1. Focus on creating a healthy work environment. Coming back together again creates new opportunities for conflict. Pay attention to mounting tensions, and address complaints or support requests quickly and thoroughly. Listening, addressing disruption, and taking quick action to resolve conflicts as they arise are crucial for building trust and strengthening morale.

2. Make investing in your team a priority. This investment should include providing soft-skills training to facilitate communication among team members. You should also conduct regular check-ins to stay ahead of potential communication problems as they arise. Taking the time to assess relationships in real-time can prevent conflict and save resources in the long run.

3. Manage your organization with a long view approach. The return-versus-remote debates can be distracting, and many of us remain bogged down in conversations about pandemic protocols. Instead, focus on the wellness of your teams and the ability to emerge from the past year with resilience and a focus on the future. Emphasize the ability to communicate freely, collaborate successfully, and rebuild relationships that may have been neglected after months of virtual work.

What can you do as an individual? Visionary leaders are staying ahead of the crisis — or at least keeping pace with it. They are having the hard conversations, making thoughtful decisions, exploring the nature of work, and investing in their people. In doing so, they ward off the damage of conflict, strengthen team relationships, build skills, and reestablish trust. Beyond considering hybrid or return to work options, these leaders are preparing their teams and businesses for the future.

Why is a mediator writing about these issues which relate more to organizational development pros? Well, our interest in this topic is a preventative one. If there isn’t a thoughtful process to examining what a return to bricks and mortar workplace looks like, misunderstandings and conflicts WILL take place. Transparency about what the return looks like is vital. Incorporating the viewpoints of your employees should be part of the process.

Professional facilitation can be helpful in navigating the hiccups that will inevitably arise during such a time of transition. A facilitator designs, guides and manages work processes so that all team members can contribute meaningfully. If you’re looking for a professional and experienced facilitator in the DC metro area, call Alternative Resolutions today.
Author: Ellen Kandell

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