A Phased Re-entry

man in suit wearing medical mask, looking out office windowBy Robert Ferrin

Believe it or not, we are coming up on one year since the COVID-19 pandemic started. This year has presented numerous challenges and opportunities in our professional and personal lives. We’ve had to constantly pivot to new realities and environmental factors. Through it all, we’ve created new habits to survive and thrive in our “new normal.” Like all things, once you start new habits, they become more comfortable and little by little, things become normal.

Up until a few weeks ago, I may have seen my office a half-dozen times during the past year. I settled into a new schedule and new expectations for meetings, work time, and employee coordination. In summary, I’ve gotten used to this new normal and found ways to see the positive aspects of a work-from-home structure.

Fast forward to the last few weeks. I’ve slowly started to pick one day a week to get back in the office and remind myself how things used to be. I’ve quickly realized habits are tough to break–I’ve been late for meetings, forgot to factor in travel time, and emotionally struggled with dipping my toe in the pre-pandemic world while we are very much still living with COVID and its related health issues. I’ve had to remind myself I deserve some grace, just like everyone else, and preach patience as we think about a post-pandemic world.

The world won’t change in an instant on the back end of the pandemic as it did on the front end. In a lot of ways, re-entry will be much more difficult and friction points will occur as we come out of this unprecedented time together. As we each start to figure out what our post-pandemic work cadence looks like, I’d encourage you to keep an open mind and give yourself some grace. We each have the potential to create a new model for work in a post-COVID world and blend the positive aspects of work-from-home and work-from-office. Let’s keep sharing ideas and thoughts to make our re-entry a success!

Robert Ferrin is assistant director for parking services at the City of Columbus, Ohio, and a member of IPMI’s Board of Directors.