Returning to the office, return to work, return to “the new normal” – whatever it is that you may be calling it, many industries are undergoing changes as the world makes its way into post-pandemic day-to-day.
While your employees have undoubtedly been hard at work throughout this entire pandemic, any sort of change can be a bit jarring, and especially so if you have a lot of employees returning to the office when they may have gotten used to working from home for the past year and a half.
As such, businesses that allowed their employees to work remotely (out of necessity) may be considering what the next right move is to welcome employees back to the new world of working. While some companies are embracing a fully remote working lifestyle, others are taking a hybrid approach, allowing employees the flexibility to come into the office part-time, and working from home when it makes sense.
Here are some Essential Steps for Transitioning Your Team Back to In-Office Work.
1. Be completely transparent.
Employers need to be transparent about the measures they have taken to help employees feel safe and comfortable with returning. Employers also need to give their employees with young or school-age children enough time to arrange daycare—returning to the office will not be that easy given how long many employees have been remote. Open communication is always most important. – Heather Smith, Flimp Communications
2. Give them the needed time to adjust to returning to the office.
Remind employees that the transition to remote work happened quickly and as a team they survived the hidden dangers of flexible work. With more planning time for returning to the office, the transition should be easier and not as abrupt. That gives team members time to adjust to the “new” normal. Communication about expectations is key, and potential timelines will help people transition and adjust. – Dr. Marcia F. Robinson, Raye Martin Group LLC
3. Share hard data to back up the decision to return to the office.
Providing the team with hard data on why the return to the office is happening is essential. There is a big misconception that everyone gets more done at home, but there are studies showing that productivity, creativity and idea generation are going down as a result of working from home. The world is only getting more and more competitive, and as soon as you lose your edge, people could start losing jobs. – Kristen Fowler, JMJ Phillip Executive Search
4. Have a flexible transition plan for returning to the office.
A carefully curated and flexible transition plan is key. Every organization is different and has unique needs. There is no one-size-fits-all plan for returning to the office to recommend. Invest the time and resources to develop the best plan—one that aligns with your business, culture, teams’ needs and so on. Then roll it out with the full expectation that tweaks and pivots will need to be made. – Bryan Passman, Hunter + Esquire
5. Balance company needs with employee needs.
Build employee-centric and custom return-to-work plans as your organization allows. The pandemic has changed the way individuals view their best work-life balance. Moreover, companies need to look at the return to work objectively, forming a balance between what is best for both the organization and the employees. – Nakisha Griffin, Virtual Enterprise Architects
6. Consider a hybrid model for returning to the office.
When planning a return to the office, employers must be sensitive to employees’ needs. A year ago, employees were expected to work from home and stay productive so companies could remain profitable. Now, some employees may not be comfortable transitioning back to the office. Employers should consider offering a hybrid work model, combining remote and office work to ensure employees feel at ease. – John Feldmann, Insperity