Will Your “Work From Home” Staff be Willing to Return to Your Office When the Pandemic is Over?

Today’s post written in partnership with Brian McKinney

Lest you think that the need to lead remote teams will soon be over here is some very interesting, but not surprising,  findings from Pew Research:

Brian McKinney, one of the CEO’s that I am privileged to coach, leads Benchmark Mortgage  with offices in 28 states.  Pre-Pandemic they had over 700 employees.  Today they have over 850 employees – which means they hired and trained remotely over 150 new employees!  Pre-Pandemic that had over 200 Corporate staff with about 30 of them working from home.  Within 48 hours in March, 2020 they shifted to a model with only 10-15 corporate staff coming to the office to oversee vital tasks that could not be done remotely with the rest (now more than 200) working from home.

Brian is now preparing for life after the current pandemic!

The core question he is asking his Executive Team is:

How do we create and preserve culture in a work-from-home environment?”

Brian shares:

“The pandemic has taught us that we CAN work from home from a logistical and technological perspective. This has afforded many people the opportunity for flexibility when it comes to commuting, childcare, etc. In many cases, this may have strengthened relationships within their own house! However, it robs them of the essential human contact needed to form and maintain REAL relationships with their co-workers. Does that matter? Will somebody ‘go to bat’ for you if they don’t have a deep relationship with you? Will an employee ‘go the extra mile’ for a company that is just a transaction on a computer screen versus a collection of real people that depend on each other for their mutual success? How much does ‘breaking bread’ with someone create an endearing friendship that can carry over into your work relationship?

We may be able to survive like this for months, even years, but I truly believe that you will start to see issues with recruiting and retention in companies that do not address this core question. It will take intentional effort to balance this new-world reality of working from home but still having a meaningful relationship with your ‘work family’ as well.”

Here are just some of the additional questions he has been asking his executive team:

  • How important to our ability to recruit and retain staff will be continued opportunities to “work from home?”
  • How do we continue our “we are like family” culture with our “work from home” staff?
  • What have we learned during this pandemic about leading/shepherding our “work from home” staff that we don’t want to forget?
  • How can we identify and recruit new staff with the maturity and discipline to “work from home?”
  • What leadership skills will be most sought after as we choose our future leaders to lead our “work from home” workforce?
  • How will we identify and promote talent within our “work from home” staff?
  • In the past we had a work station for every one of our staff in our office.  How should we reconfigure our office space with over half of our staff working from home?  Will there be occasional face to face team meetings that we need to plan for?
  • How can we find out which of our staff want to continue to work from home and which staff want to return to our office?
  • What might be the Best Practices for leading teams that are made up of both “work from home” and “work at the office” staff?

Of course what Brian is addressing is not unique!  You and your colleagues are most likely asking many of these same questions.   I am curious,

What other questions are you and your colleagues asking?



Bob Tiede


Bob has been on the staff of Cru for 53 years. He currently serves on the U.S. Leadership Development Team and is passionate about seeing leaders grow and multiply their effectiveness. Bob and his wife, Sherry, live in Plano, TX and are blessed with 4 incredible children and 9 remarkable grandchildren.


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