Since the start of the COVID pandemic, most companies have been operating remotely. The arrangement has become a burden rather than a convenience, necessitating employees to go back to a central office. Work-life boundaries are now reducing, with many people feeling trapped at home. The feeling is not primarily due to lockdown measures but also because of a build-up of work stress. For this reason, companies are now considering allowing their employees to work from the office. Here are seven ways to prepare your company for returning to the office.
1. Create a Practical Return to Office Strategy
While company managers need to observe government guidelines regarding workplace social distancing, it would be unwise to bring your entire workforce to the office at once. But, many workers miss the motivating and collaborative energy provided by the physical presence of their colleagues. Therefore, the best way to minimize the challenges of navigating these trying times on a large scale is to return to the office in batches. Also, depending on your office space’s density and your company’s size, it may be more sensible to maintain a work from the home arrangement on an alternating basis to make it easier to apply social distancing rules. In essence, this involves selecting teams to work remotely while others work from the office.
2. Maintain Continuous Communication
There is a need for continuous communication when preparing to return to work. The working arrangements in terms of how and when people work might need to change to ensure employees’ safety and good health. The changes may include new rules regarding the number of people in meeting rooms, entering kitchens, workstation distancing, cleaning regimes, and hand hygiene best practices.
You can also instruct your employees to avoid sharing some office equipment such as computers by encouraging them to use their laptops instead. To ensure the laptops’ safety, encourage them to buy leather MacBook cases to protect their laptops.
3. Consider your Employees’ Mental Health
It is good to appreciate that employees have gone through many changes within a short time, which can be unsettling. Furthermore, working for some time without physical interactions with colleagues could negatively impact employees’ mental well-being and engagement. During preparing to return to work, it would be good for companies to prioritize boosting motivation and rebuilding staff morale. It is crucial to maintain positivity and manage people with higher sensitivity levels. To instill a sense of engagement and normalcy, encourage optimum collaboration among colleagues while observing social distancing guidelines.
4. Encourage Employee Feedback
There should be two-way communication with your employees throughout the transition period to sustain morale and ensure clarity. For instance, listen to employees who are not comfortable with working from the office every day. Give them a chance to air their concerns and address them promptly. Hold regular company or team meetings to hear new suggestions on improvements.
5. Find Ways to Cope with a Split Culture
Your organizational culture may be split when some employees return to the office and others choosing to work from home. But, you can level the playing field. When holding a meeting with both remote and onsite staff, everyone should attend the meeting virtually. Avoid having some employees in the conference room while others are attending virtually. Allocate a suitable time for everyone to attend the meeting.
6. Set Clear Protocols and Expectations
You might face a challenge in handling employees who refuse to go for vaccination. Regardless of the perspective, it would help if you decided how this will impact your recruitment process, employee retention, and company culture. Therefore, leaders should establish safety protocols, provide education, and demonstrate clear expectations on whichever decision they make.
7. Realign your Employees to Business Values
An employer should expect a change in employee values. This is because working remotely has given them enough time to re-evaluate their primary values, drive, and beliefs. For this reason, you should realign your employees back to business values. Evaluate the employees’ state of mind and understand where they are.
Although it is not entirely safe to resume working in the office, it is advisable to do a test run. This is especially the case for employees with crucial roles and those who still want to work remotely. The solution is gradual implementation and adjustment to accommodate everyone’s needs.