As much as the work-from-home trend has become popular this year, for reasons you don’t need reminding of, many businesses still prefer using office space to keep their staff all in one place.
Some might co misconstrue this as a power thing, but the reality is far from it. Instead, it is about fostering teamwork and enabling simple communication. Despite this, it’s safe to say that employees across the country have become comfortable and familiar with their remote working setup. This means there may be some reluctance or hesitation to come back to the workplace.
Although some businesses can survive and perhaps even thrive working solely with remote employees, this isn’t possible for everyone. If your company operates in labor, customer service, or education, among others, you need to ensure you can transition your employees back to the workplace successfully.
Outline The Safety Procedures
Right now, safety is the most paramount issue for many people. If you are forced or determined to bring your staff back to the office, you need to prove to them that safety is your most significant concern.
Disinfectant kits and a thorough risk assessment should be high on your list of priorities. Likewise, you need to have a plan in place should anyone in the office require isolation without disrupting everyone else’s workflow.
Both small businesses and established corporations will need to do all they can to gain their employees’ trust in returning to the office. To ensure you follow all the necessary procedures, a safety consultation is an ideal solution, as this enables them to highlight potential issues that you may not have noticed. When your employees return, you can pass this information on to them.
Take Suggestions On Board
You need to keep in mind that your employees are used to doing things their way at home, and they may have discovered practices that have significantly boosted their productivity. For simple transition success, you can consider this new office to be a blank slate.
With this, you can take a plethora of suggestions on board that could significantly improve the workplace experience. Don’t be afraid to welcome suggestions from your team and do what you can to implement recommendations that could make the workplace better, especially in weird times.
These suggestions can include more flexible working hours, whereas abandoning weekly meetings (that can often be an email) in favor of monthly meetings can improve efficiency and enable your team to maintain productivity.
Improve The Setup
Similarly, bringing staff back to the office gives you the chance to improve the overall setup. This can range from in-office practices to comfort and updating the servers and other systems to streamline workflow and increase productivity when people are unlikely to feel exceptionally productive.
As your team has likely found their zone while working from home, you can bring this atmosphere into the office. Improving the office floor with height adjustable desks, ergonomic office chairs, and ditching desktops in favor of laptops can increase comfort and save energy.
It’s also worth thinking about the technical side. You may have a lot of work to catch up on, so consider whether your servers and systems can handle the increased workload. If not, there is arguably not a better time than right now to research what you can do to make it easier for servers to manage increased demand.
Consider The Commute
If your business operates in the middle of a bustling city, it isn’t easy for staff to get there via car. The city traffic can be frustrating. The parking can be expensive and unreliable. The alternative to this is public transport. However, this also comes with a range of issues.
Staff may be reluctant to catch public transport, especially during rush hour when too many bodies squeeze onto the bus or train. This is something you will need to consider and accept when deciding to bring staff back to the office.
You may realize that the office is not necessarily the best place to be. Still, if you don’t have a choice, providing secure parking can avoid this, as will installing additional bike racks, which could also encourage staff to take a green approach to getting to work.
Don’t Bring Everyone Back At Once
While it might be tempting to get everyone back to the office at once so you can catch everyone up on what must be done at the same time, this can make a lot of people feel uneasy, and there will likely be considerable push-back from your employees.
To overcome this, it’s essential that you trickle staff back in groups. You can bring them back in departments, or you can do it randomly. Whichever option you select, you’ll make the back-to-work transition much more comfortable and less stressful.
Easing people into a new environment will be more beneficial for your business, as it will also reduce the risk of infections that will send you right back to square one. Your staff will also appreciate the effort you have made to put their safety first.
It is no secret that your staff may have other things on their mind after you invite them back to the office, which is why you need to offer support to ensure you can help everyone to feel their best inside and out. This will ease some of their fears and also give them the confidence that you have their best interests in mind at the office.
This increased support can include considering everybody’s situation. Some may have made lifestyle adjustments during their time away. It would be unfair to tear them away from this immediately, so don’t be too strict on what you want or need them to do.
If they have other commitments, such as childcare, or offering support for older family members, work alongside them to ensure they can continue to fulfill these duties. It doesn’t need to be like this forever, but you can talk to them to find solutions. If this involves a slight change to their regular working hours, so be it.
Accept That Things Have Changed
This point relates to offering support, but it’s also crucial enough that you must consider it a separate issue. If you’ve been in your industry for years, you are likely set in your ways, and it can be challenging to accept the shift that has occurred within the business world over the last year.
However, if you want to bring your employees back into your office successfully and continue to push for the company growth you envisioned at the start of the year, you must take changes on the chin. Recognizing that things are unlikely to get back to normal for a while, at least a year in some cases, will help you manage the adjustments with more confidence.
It can be difficult to change your usual way of doing things, especially when they have been so successful in the past. Despite this, it is a chance to lead the way for a new way of working. This will put your employees in excellent spirits and allow you to achieve similar success, even if the journey there is a little different.
Make Sure to Communicate
Communication is crucial in all aspects of life. Without consistent communication, your staff could feel stranded in an ocean of uncertainty. This will not do their productivity any good, nor will it positively impact their faith in you as a manager.
Make sure to share as much information as possible to help them get on with their work and complete projects on time. If you need to adjust meetings or change appointments, don’t leave it until the last minute to inform others, as they may have already prioritized their work for the week.
This should be natural for all managers. However, if you’ve struggled with being an effective communicator in the past, now is your chance to change.
Be Ready To Start All Over Again
While it is exciting to get the team back into the office, you never know what regulations could come into play over the next few months. This isn’t to say don’t get comfortable, but you should still have a contingency plan in place to ensure you can manage a sudden shift back out of the office.
Even if you expected to be forced out of the office, the lack of experience meant there might have been overlooked issues. This time, you have the expertise to make sure transitioning out of the office again can run more smoothly.
Consider what you could have done better last time, and make sure you implement appropriate procedures to ensure you are ready to close the office all over again.
If there’s anything that business owners must recognize when bringing staff back to the office, it is that things will not be the same. Perhaps it will take time for everything to return to normal; maybe it will never return to normal. However, if you can transition back to the office as comfortable and familiar as possible, you can regain the atmosphere that you and your employees remember from your workplace.