The last two years have been strange for employees and businesses alike. Remote work was once seen as uncharted territory, and businesses worried about its impact on productivity and security. Just when people were becoming used to working remotely, companies began calling their employees back to the office. However, they have been met with growing apprehensions. If you’re an employer planning to bring the workforce back to the office, you’re up against significant challenges. Here are five ways you can make the transition smoother:
1. Communicate with employees
Most employees are worried about COVID-related safety protocols, so they need to be assured of a safe workplace. Communicating early and frequently is a great way to regain their trust. Instruct managers to get in touch with employees and hold one-on-one talks to understand their grievances. Try to understand their concerns and improve the office space according to the feedback. Make efforts that show you care about the health of employees and their families which gives them the confidence to return to work.
2. Create team building events
Effective office hours are built on a collaborative atmosphere, but after months of not seeing their colleagues, it’s hard to hit the ground running for most employees. Experiment with creative team-building events that foster growth and understanding. Try taking small steps and learn with employees as they go. Create a transparent reward channel to recognize their efforts.
3. Allow them to reconnect with the office life
In the last few months, professionals had to rewire their daily habits to fit home-based workspaces. Now they’re once again being asked to shuffle their entire lifestyle, which can be jarring. Returning to the office is a process that needs time. Give employees the room to reconnect with office life in their own way. When they feel comfortable, they tend to embrace the changing dynamics faster.
4. Offer flexibility
The psychological impact of the pandemic has been widely different in employees. If possible, provide them with flexibility. This can be letting them organize their desks in a way that alleviates health concerns, or offering hybrid work options and flexible work hours. Not all businesses can offer complete flexibility to help the transition, but it’s important to not force them to make a decision. Use a branded workplace app to help employees make the most of this situation.
5. Establish the importance of office
When people are afraid to take the next step, it’s important to make them understand why they’re doing it. Reinforce the importance of office work and the perks and align them with the company vision. Give a sense of purpose to this transition and see how positively they react to it.
It’s important to understand not all employees will be comfortable sharing how they feel about coming back to the office. Try to be empathetic about their concerns and gather feedback anonymously. More than anything, keep a clear channel of communication and be honest about what this means to their careers.