This is part 2 in a 4-part series to help organizations navigate re-entry after the initial impact of COVID-19. 

If you’re just joining the conversation, don’t miss the valuable information shared in Part 1: Learning From The Virtual Environment And The Effects COVID-19. 

Part 2: Creating an Outcome-Driven Plan for Initial Re-Entry

After capturing the learning from the past few months and creating your new Picture of Success, it’s now time to make some decisions about how you will bring employees back to the workplace. This is a challenge considering that the status of the coronavirus is shifting from week to week, leaving the solution open to lots of varying opinions about the best way to approach this without any data or experience to back them up.

1st – Align Around Your Purpose and Outcomes

It’s human nature to want and drive for solutions. But without taking the time to align first on the purpose and outcomes for bringing people back to the workplace, you can easily get fragmented with everyone’s good ideas and perspectives about re-entry.

While we might want it all – high profitability, safety, effectiveness, efficiency, demonstrated core values, decisive leadership, strong developing employees, cooperative teamwork, and many more things, going for them all at once will likely be ineffective.  It is almost impossible to achieve success without focus and priority.

2nd – Set New Priorities Based On Execution

Take a moment and identify the following considerations in order of priority and rate them 1 to 12. You will notice that some statements are more “purpose-driven,” while others are more “execution-driven” and they all shape your sense of desired outcomes. Of course, you can add any additional criteria based on your particular business and situation. Don’t worry if there are things you want that don’t make it to top priority. You can strive for and achieve everything that you want for your business, just remember that in order to do that you need to focus and prioritize the most important things first.

___ Increase profitability as quickly as possible

___ More effectively serve your customers

___ Ensure everyone comes back to work at the same time so that everyone is treated equally

___ Ensure the safety of all employees returning to work

___ Allow some people to continue working from home

___ Provide options for employees coming back to the workplace or staying home based on requirements established for maintaining a safe and healthy workplace (masks, cleaning protocol, etc.)

___ Phase the re-entry process based on experimenting with effectiveness to achieve results, individual preferences (employee satisfaction), ensuring health standards, and/or improving communication.

___ Bring people back to work, only if they need to use the equipment or physically need to coordinate with others

___ Allow “extroverts” to return to the workplace to meet their need for socializing

___ Allow people to work at home if they have demonstrated high levels of performance without negatively impacting others

___ Use a phased approach to bringing people back to work based on need, desire, and effectiveness while working at home

___ Provide time slots for working at home and working at the building based on time and allowance for social distancing

3rd – Putting it All Together

My guess is that coming up with your list of priorities was easy at first and then got more difficult as you approached some of the outcomes involving how you will make the transition. That is where most conflicts enter the process of change. It’s easy to set up your purpose and goals, but harder to make decisions and get alignment around execution. 

If you were on an athletic team, when would you want to see misalignment in execution surface – during the game or before the game ever begins? It’s a no-brainer. You would definitely want to get aligned before the game, and that is the purpose of practice. Organizations are quick to set strategy, purpose and goals. Then, in their rush for results, they work out misalignment during execution, which causes unnecessary breakdowns, conflicts, poor performance, and lower morale. 

Regardless of your priorities for re-entry, be as aligned as possible on your purpose and your execution before implementation. For some organizations, jumping in and learning as they go will be inevitable. 

To find out how to adapt your re-entry approach, do effective scenario planning, and create proactive recovery plans, check out Part 3: Adapting Your Re-Entry Approach

To read other parts of this series, click below:

Part 1: Learning from the Virtual Environment and the Effects of COVID-19

Part 3: Adapting Your Re-Entry Approach

Part 4: Solidifying Your Culture During and After Re-Entry


  • Mark Samuel is a transformative leader with over 30 years of experience in the business world. He has helped hundreds of companies overcome stagnation, transform their businesses, and eliminate toxic work cultures to increase profits, morale, and customer experience. Mark trains leaders on how to implement sustainable changes within just one or two months--a revolutionary approach that he's pioneered with his team at IMPAQ. Mark writes frequently for Forbes and Thrive Global, and hosts the Conscious Leadership with Mark Samuel podcast. He is the author of 7 books, including his newest book, the USA TODAY / Wall Street Journal Bestseller "Reimagine Teams".