Welcoming EAs Back Into the Office

Meet Joanne Linden, CPS, CEAP, CWCA President and Master Trainer

As we continue to take steps to get our world back to a safer environment, we have seen some businesses starting to bring their staff back into the office, or at least offer a hybrid option to split their time between remote and a staggered office staff schedule to reduce contact. Although this may not be the case for a majority of businesses, it does signal that hope is on the horizon. 

But who will be the first to be summoned back into the office and how will Executives ensure that their team feels as comfortable and safe as they can be?

With such an important role, Executive Assistants are on our radar for being some of the first people to find themselves back in the office. There is nothing like having your right-hand person physically present to collaborate with, communicate with and have near for morale support. 

However, the reality is that Executive Assistants have had a taste of the remote world. Some may be standing at the door, shoes on ready to run back to the office and get out of their homes, while others have found a new and comfortable work style with slippers underneath their home office desk.

These Executive Assistants have had the opportunity to learn how to stay on top of communication, create new systems, ask the right questions and maneuver their way into a successful partnership with their Executives, virtually. Certainly, having to relearn an entire workflow and system is no easy task – especially when the Executive Assistant’s job is to manage every aspect of the Executive’s professional life, as well as learning the business from a high level. 

Observing how Executive Assistants have maneuvered this transition over the past year and a half is truly a testament to how adaptable they are and capable of providing unlimited value in their role. And while many Executive Assistants may be ready and revving their engines to get back into the office, it will still be yet another challenge to transition back. So as Executives create their policy for returning to the office, there are a few things to consider:

Evaluation and Recognition

Understanding and acknowledging the difficulty of making the initial transition to a remote work environment is paramount, especially when making the decision to bring them back into the office – essentially reversing all the effort put into adapting to a WFH space. 

Evaluate how effectively the Executive Assistant was able to perform tasks remotely, while making note of things that will need to be modified upon returning to the office – specifically the level of communication. If there are suggestions you must make, now would be the time to make them. Even better, ask for their suggestions about how to improve the workflow and effectiveness.

Consider this: Is the remote style working effectively in your partnership and is this something you would consider continuing to utilize? If you have seen an improvement in communication and productivity maybe it’s worth trying out a partly remote work set up. 

Explore Your EAs Opinion on WFH

Make it a habit of checking in with your Executive Assistant to see whether they favor working remotely or if they are more excited about the prospect of coming back into the office. Posing this question periodically will help you to see if their answers are based on a particular time or scenario ( maybe it’s busy, maybe there is something going on at home, or maybe everything is going swimmingly). Discuss with your EA whether they would prefer to have a part remote schedule closer to the time when people will be returning to the office. 

The truth is, many EAs had to shuffle life around – personal as well as professional. As there are many parents working as Executive Assistants, life at home surely took some maneuvering to find a balance. Create an open communication environment, so your EA will be comfortable enough to explain the environment at home, potential challenges and how returning to the office will affect that.  

Remote Effectiveness

Keep in mind how many studies over the past year and a half have demonstrated how successful and productive remote team members have become after adapting to the new normal. Depending on the individual, their willingness to keep the remote consistency and their record of productivity over this time, you may find that keeping their role partially or fully remote could benefit you.

Meet Joanne Linden, CPS, CEAP, CWCA President and Master Trainer