In 2020 many organizations had to change their office workflows and procedures to help their team adapt to the new realities associated with COVID-19. Now that 2020 has come to an end, it’s time to reflect on what changes worked, what didn’t, and decide how we continue to change in 2021. To help do that, let’s look at five operational areas and some key questions:

1.     Policies – Between new work from home policies, Zoom meetings, Slack channels, and changes in infrastructure and virtual events, a lot of adjustments were made in a short period of time. Now that the year is over, did your new policies work, or do some need to be fine-tuned or rebuilt to get the results you’re looking for? Now is a great time to break down how effective each policy has been and identify areas for improvement.

2.     Teams – How are your teams performing? Are they engaged, flexible and efficient? Or is there something slowing them down? Are there other productivity or communications tools, such as OneNote or Teams, that could fill in the gaps and streamline teamwork? Or perhaps there are too many apps, meetings and tracking docs? There’s no easy, one size fits all answer here. Some people thrive independently while others depend on leadership to provide structure. Figuring out the right solution for each employee may help you find the proper balance for the team overall. The aim is to achieve an efficient workflow that keeps your teams on the same page while working collaboratively.

3.     Leadership – While showing confidence, vision, purpose, and value are still very much essential components of leadership (and each worth reviewing periodically), don’t overlook how the needs of your employees have changed. Their world shifted dramatically, and they’ve had to find new, and possibly very different ways, to approach work and life. Do you understand what your employees need from leadership as they move into 2021? Now that some time has passed and people have somewhat stabilized, it’s worth taking some time to ask these questions.

4.     Work Life Balance – Now that the office has officially entered the home of most Americans, work life balance is something all business leaders should be discussing. How to manage a home office is not natural for a lot of people, especially if they’re used to working in a physical office space. Are you helping employees to set boundaries and providing optional lifestyle information – for example giving them information on how to eat properly or exercise? It can go a long way toward helping employees manage their stress and show up for work focused and prepared.

5.     The Power of Change – 2021 represents an opportunity for businesses (and employees) to re-connect with customers and prospects; to find out how their needs have changed (or will change in the year ahead). Do you have good insights into what new challenges or concerns your customers are facing? Have you asked how you can better serve them? This is the perfect time to re-engage and gather some valuable intel. Having this information can empower your team to evolve and remain relevant in the year ahead.

2020 was a challenging year, but if you keep asking questions of your teams and your customers, you can remain successful in 2021. Whether reviewing policies, workflows or leadership, remember to document these changes and track success (it’s always good to reflect on what works and what doesn’t). And, be sure to consistently communicate across your teams. Happy New Year.