Are you asking your employees to return to the office? They may need some additional support. After over a year of working from home, returning to the office will be a big change for many employees. It is reported that two-thirds of people are feeling anxious or concerned about going back to their place of work. Here’s how you can ensure a smooth transition whilst maintaining a happy and engaged workforce.
Make Safety A Priority
When returning to the office, employees will need to feel safe. Ensure you have all of the appropriate safety measures in place and communicate these with your workforce. It is important your employees understand what will be required of them so they can arrive at the office prepared. Showing your employees that you are taking their safety seriously will help put their minds at ease. The gov.uk website has lots of information about how to make your workplace covid secure.
Communication Is Key
Before asking anything of your employees, it is worth taking some one-on-one time with them to discuss how they feel. You might find some employees can’t wait to return to the office whereas others are feeling apprehensive. Some might not want to work in the office at all. It would be a good idea to get an understanding on where your employees stand before making any final decisions. Moving forward, ensure you create an open environment for communication. Employees should feel they are able to speak up if they feel uncomfortable at any point.
Staggered Return To Site
For some employees, returning to the office 5 days a week after a year at home might be a shock to the system. Make people aware there is no pressure or judgement with regards to returning to the workplace. Offer your employees the option to gradually increase their time in the office. Start by asking them to return for one or two days to start with, to allow them time to adjust.
Flexibility is key. In fact, a reported 83% of UK office workers agreed that flexible working is here to stay. In addition to allowing people to continue to work from home where possible, also consider how you can be more flexible with your physical workspace. Try to be as flexible as possible to accommodate people’s needs. Some employees might want to sit in a quieter place, others might want to be more integrated. Flexibility on start and finish times would also be helpful to support those with caregiving responsibilities or those with longer commutes. Have a conversation with your staff to find out what you can put in place to support them the most.
Don’t Forget About Team Building
When lockdowns were implemented, weekly virtual team meet ups and quizzes became a popular way to help staff stay in touch. Once everyone is back in the office, don’t forget to keep up with team building exercises. It has probably been a long time since your employees met each other face to face. Continuing with your team building exercises will help employees adjust to the new normal whilst building positive relationships with their colleagues.
Whilst these points are a great start to supporting your employees return to the office, above all, safety is key. This includes looking after employee’s mental health too. Any major change in someone’s life can cause stress and anxiety. And, as lockdowns lift and routines begin to change, you may find work becomes more stressful. Take a look at our guide to dealing with workplace stress to help you through these ever-changing times.