Ready for a full return to the office? 5 considerations for a smooth transition!
The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed everyone to remote work. Both employers and employees loved the idea of working remotely because of its benefits. Moreover, it has been the best way to keep businesses running even during the pandemic. However, companies faced some issues in the starting, but they eagerly embraced modern technology to ensure productivity while working remotely. For example, HR leaders started using video interview software to hire candidates remotely without any threat of the virus.
But now, leaders across the world are planning to return to the office. They are focused on planning an effective return to the office. From making new guidelines to providing amenities that prioritize health, they need to keep several points in mind. However, you may face several challenges while calling employees back to the office. But as a leader, it is your responsibility to ensure a smooth transition for your employees. You must anticipate these challenges and strategize to meet all employees’ demands.
Returning to the office has many benefits; you just need to implement the return strategy correctly. In this blog, you will read out some key considerations to make a robust and feasible return plan.
1. Understand employees’ preferences
Before calling all your employees back to the office, you must run an online survey. With this survey, you can easily get an insight into what employees prefer when they return to the office. You can make your survey more specific to get the most accurate results. Make sure to survey both employees and managers. Many managers think that managing employees during remote work is difficult. Consider the views of both employees and managers, and try to meet their expectations. Also, keep in mind that adjusting back to office life may be difficult for some employees. Therefore, you must communicate with them to know their preferences.
2. Opt for a phased-in approach
Most offices abruptly closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. As all companies are now preparing to return to the office, leaders have a chance to make an unhurried and controlled return. Some employees love remote work, while others prefer to work from the office. You must call those employees first who are eager to join the office. They will help you determine the areas that need improvements. Moreover, they will promote a positive work environment.
Inform other employees in advance about the office return so they can make arrangements accordingly. Additionally, they will get proper time to mentally prepare themselves for returning to the office. This phased-in approach is an excellent way to make the return smooth and effective.
3. Re-imagine your workspace
Updating your physical space is essential to attracting all employees back to the office. Give everyone a fresh start by reinventing your office setup and creating an inviting work environment. Establish an environment that encourages productivity and collaboration. Spaces that offer communication and collaboration often seem more attractive to people. Your space must comprise comfortable break rooms, conference rooms, and open-seating areas. All these are the main demands of employees nowadays. Additionally, provide amenities that foster well-being. Keep the following points in mind while updating your physical space.
- First of all, communicate with your employees, and ask them what enhancements in the office would make their work easier.
- Create a flexible workspace to facilitate collaboration and promote connection.
- Add a library, coffee cart, or lounge area to make the workspace more appealing.
- Foster social connection by including community areas, collaboration zones, and break spaces in the office.
4. Prioritize employee well-being
One of the major concerns of employees while returning to the office is their health. If you have decided to call your workers back to the physical office setting, then your focus should be on keeping everyone safe and healthy. After the coronavirus pandemic, employees have now started prioritizing their mental and physical health. Therefore, it is a must for you to consider employees’ well-being. Employees seek companies that prioritize their health. Create an employee wellness program that aims to improve your workers’ health and well-being.
5. Make your return purposeful
Multiple studies have shown that employees prefer doing skilled tasks at home while collaborative tasks in the office. Employees consider the office as a place to socialize and engage. If you are planning to call your employees back to the office, you must create a purposeful in-office schedule that promotes communication and collaboration. Make an intentional plan that is connected to the company’s values and culture.
- To make your return purposeful, connect your reasons for returning to the business objectives of your organization.
- Give your workers a clear idea of why returning to the office is important and how it will benefit you in the long run.
- Be flexible with your return plans based on employees’ preferences.
- Tell employees that you are updating the physical space to make it more comfortable for them.
6. Focus on work-life balance
One of the major benefits of remote work is improved work-life balance. As there are no long commutes, employees can use that time for their hobbies and families. According to a report by Pew Research Center, 64% of workers said that remote work has made it easier for them to balance their personal and professional lives. Moreover, Gen Z and millennials also prefer a hybrid work model because it allows them to complete their tasks while feeling connected to their families.
Therefore, you should help your employees maintain a work-life balance even while working from the office. You can offer flexible work options, such as a hybrid work schedule or WFH days. Encourage your employees to go on breaks to refresh themselves. If any worker is feeling sick, give them leave. You can also implement well-being and mental health initiatives.
7. Offer workforce training programs and update skills assessments
We all know the importance of investing attention and time into equipping your workforce with the necessary tools to succeed in a business. However, offering the necessary tools will definitely benefit your business, but nothing can match the advantages provided by in-person training. As employees will be returning to the office after a long time, leaders can offer training programs to their employees that help them to update their skills. Revisit the corporate learning program, and help employees perform tasks in a better way.
Wrapping it up
Returning to the office after remote work indicates another significant change in the way we work. You may face some challenges while planning a return to the office, but with some tips, you can effectively ensure a smooth transition. Organizations that consider their employees’ expectations and listen to their needs are poised to increase their productivity in the post-pandemic world. Use the key points mentioned above, and create a successful plan for returning to the office. Establish a plan that is flexible and purposeful to boost employee morale. With this, you can also build a more engaged workforce.