Return to the Office: Actions Leaders Must Take Now, Part 2

In part 1 of our Return to the Office series, we emphasized the need to have a game plan for altered expectations around new modes of working. What is possible with respect to virtual collaboration and remote work has shifted, and organizations need to adjust to new realities to stay relevant. A pre-COVID mentality won’t work. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the area of talent.

Never waste a good crisis

Talent is an ongoing challenge for organizations in a normal environment— hiring, managing, developing and retaining the right people is crucial. But managing talent in a virtual landscape increases the complexity significantly. Failure to adapt to new expectations of flexibility and offer robust solutions to facilitate virtual collaboration, remote work, and accountability based on results and trust will hamper your efforts to attract and retain the best.

5 tips to stay competitive in the race for talent in a virtual landscape:

  1. Plan for the workforce you want to attract.

Assess the skills you need and consider a broader talent market now that you’re no longer constrained by geography. Incorporate virtuality into your employment brand by using technology to source and attract candidates, leveraging cost and time efficiencies, while setting the tone for a new mode of operation.

  1. Create people strategies that reflect workforce marketplace changes.

Review how your talent planning can be enhanced with new opportunities brought about by expanded geographies, gig economies, new technologies, extended networks, and analytics.

  1. Develop progressive plans that implement change over time.

Increase and support flexible, alternative, and on-demand options across the employee lifecycle. Reassess talent acquisition, learning & development, and employee engagement/retention to keep your value proposition in line with the marketplace.

  1. Anticipate virtual changes that require behavior changes.

Ensure performance management is truly performance-based and not impacted by visual expectations (i.e., I must see you in the office to know that you’re productive). Reinforce and reward behaviors that support and innovate in the virtual landscape and hold leaders accountable for leading by example.

  1. Leverage artificial intelligence and technological advances in collaboration.

Commit to creating a virtual watercooler. Enhance the employee experience and reinforce your culture through a commitment to virtual connection and engagement.


Charlotte Ntreh and Barbara Milhizer are Partners at PeopleResults where they help clients build and sustain high-performing, effective and impactful organizations with measurable results.

Charlotte:; Twitter @cntreh.