Remote and Hybrid work

30 June 2021

4 min.

Back to the office: Learning from the pandemic and the challenges of reopening

The pandemic has brought a phenomenal amount of challenges and changes to all organizations. It meant arranging for remote work, changing certain ways of doing things, and adapting to the unknown. But have these changes been so negative? Especially since, with reopening and returning to the office, new issues are likely to arise.

Are you concerned about this? Let’s talk about it!

3 key figures on pandemic insights

According to studies cited in a Forbes article, How To Not Mess Up Return-To-The-Office, the pandemic has boosted productivity while improving work cultures and work-life balance.


of the 800 organizations surveyed found that productivity was the same or higher when working remotely compared to pre-pandemic productivity. To think that before the pandemic, many doubted the effectiveness of working from home!


of employees say their organizational culture has improved since starting to work remotely.


of employees say that organizations have become more respectful of work-life balance since the pandemic began.

Despite reluctance, fear, and uncertainty, many positive effects were seen within organizations. Everyone has been able to adapt.

However, things are not over yet as we are about to enter a new phase of the pandemic.

The 3 phases of the pandemic

In neuroscience, transitions are said to follow 3 distinct phases and the pandemic is no exception.

The 3 phases of the pandemic | Source: Neuroleadership Institute

The shock phase

The first phase is the shock phase. When the pandemic started, we felt overwhelmed! At the brain level, the impact was very similar to a physical shock. It was similar to what you might experience when you break an arm, for example. Our bodies had to deal with an adrenaline boost for several weeks.

Remember: it’s January 2020, pre-pandemic. We had no idea what we were about to experience. Many were already working very partially from home, others were on the verge of being able to do so one day a week by following several guidelines.

Many people thought it was impossible to have everyone working remotely while maintaining the same level of productivity. And if we wanted to implement a remote work policy, we were certain that it would require a change management strategy. These beliefs were clearly proven wrong!

The pain phase

When the adrenaline died down, we entered the pain or suffering phase. We were under the impression that it would never end, that our broken arm would never return to normal.

We won’t deny it: time seemed long. It was all the more difficult because we had been deprived of the possibility to decide on our own actions. We could no longer go to the office, nor could we see family, go out, have moments of relaxation outside… It was painful.

The rehab phase

After a very long period of uncertainty, we are now entering the rehabilitation phase. To use the previous image, this phase is the one that will allow our arm to heal. It is now time to reflect on how to prepare and get the right tools to succeed in our rehabilitation.

By rehab, we mean:

  • Recovering our strengths, the strengths we already had before the pandemic, and on which we can build.
  • Using our left arm, which has not experienced any shock. The idea is to rely on the elements that haven’t changed and over which we have control.
  • But also building new muscles to avoid falling back into these phases, thus training to cope better with the next shock.

The challenges of reopening

With the gradual return to the office, we will now have to get used to a hybrid work mode. Some will return to the office, more or less gradually, while others will continue to work remotely.

However, this new way of working is already raising many questions. How can we maintain the progress made in recent months in terms of work-life balance? Should managers or business leaders give clear directives? Or on the contrary, should employees be allowed to choose where they work?

How can we engage those who will stay 100% remote? Will psychological proximity still be a priority?

How can we continue to improve our workplace and modernize our practices without having to wait for another crisis?

The first step is to identify limiting beliefs and transform them through a growth mindset. A smooth transition is possible if you give yourself the means to do so, and it starts with adopting the right mindset! And if you’re looking for actionable tips on how to make the transition to hybrid work, don’t hesitate to check out our article Hybrid work mode: How to prepare for the transition.