In a post-pandemic world, many employers may experience pushback from employees who are hesitant to return to the office after working remotely. This leads many companies to question whether it’s possible to achieve a smooth and effective transition back to the office, and how they can go about doing so.
Whether you’re looking to bring employees back part-time through a hybrid model or completely full-time, read on below to see what you can do to make the transition back to a public work setting achievable.
Executing an effective return-to-office strategy is vital for ensuring that the needs of both the company and employees are met. While there’s no one-size-fits-all plan, there are some considerations you can make as you move your employees back into an office space.
As you transition employees back to the office, it’s important to remain flexible and consider multiple workplace models. After working from home for so long, many employees may want to retain the advantages that working remotely can bring.
This may mean allowing employees to stay home a few days a week instead of requiring them to be in the office daily. Or, you may consider giving employees time to take care of family matters, doctors’ appointments, or other personal circumstances without requiring that they use a vacation day.
Some companies are finding success in getting employees to return by upgrading their office space and offering more amenities. Enhancing your office to ensure your staff's physical and emotional well-being can allow you to create a place they may feel like they’re missing out on if they decide to stay at home.
Consider switching out those drab cubicles for something more exciting, like business areas offering comfy chairs for lounging and decompressing. Work cafés, exercise spaces, and outdoor walking paths are also great features to consider.
After spending so much time at home, there is also a push for creating more social opportunities at work, which can be dependent on how your office space is laid out. Consider adding larger gathering areas that encourage networking and camaraderie, interactive training and learning, mentoring, and team collaboration.
Upgraded amenities and gathering areas are also great for fostering a positive team culture. This creates a friendlier environment for your employees and gives them a more comfortable workplace. Because of this, your employees are more likely to value having a workspace to go to every day, since they’ll have a higher incentive to be there.
Nothing is more frustrating than technology that doesn’t work. Many of your employees may have preferred their home workspace because of the technology they can access at home. If you want employees to return to the office, your company needs to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and equipment.
The right technology enables your workforce to be more dynamic and efficient. Not only will this make your company more effective, but it also gives employees more incentive to return to the office since they can fully take advantage of the upgraded technology to do their job.
Requiring your employees to return to the office doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have a say. Before transitioning back, it’s good practice to check in on your employees and see what their expectations are while also listing yours. This conversation shows that you care about your employees’ opinions, making them feel a lot more valued.
Before initiating your transition plan, gather feedback from your staff or consider hosting one-on-one meetings to understand how they feel and address any individual concerns they may have. Checking in regularly with your staff through this process can ensure you are listening to the wants and needs of each employee.
The best way to communicate your expectations for returning to in-office work is to be completely transparent. Your employees should have all the information available to them from the beginning so they don’t walk into an office space and quickly become unhappy.
Communicating effectively gives you the chance to show good leadership skills, since you’ll be proactive about telling your staff what is going on and when impending changes may occur. If you can communicate effectively on your expectations, your employees will likely feel more comfortable returning to the office. Additionally, they are more likely to trust you with the process, allowing fewer obstacles to arise.
No one wants to come to work where everything is always negative. If you want your staff to enjoy transitioning back to the office, you’ll want to foster a positive company culture. There are things, like company events and celebrations, that can’t be enjoyed when working remotely. As your staff returns to the office, this is a great time to remind them of the things they missed.
Use humor thoughtfully to foster a lighter environment while offering genuine support. Team lunches, events, and other cultural activities can go a long way in building your team’s dedication and trust.
During this process, you will likely have to compromise in some areas. Your employees may enjoy the many perks of working remotely and may be hesitant to give these up. Instead of taking away these perks entirely, be generous and consider how you can offset their thinking by offering something even better.
Some areas you may consider compromising in are employee work hours or even adjusting your dress code policy to be less strict.
There will be individual personal situations you’ll have to consider as you transition back to the office. However, as much as possible, you’ll want to stay consistent with your expectations across the board. If you offer some discretion to one person who wants to work from home, you’ll have to apply these rules without being disrespectful or unfair to others.
Try to keep everyone at the same standard; working with personal situations is important, but staying consistent with your expectations is best to maintain a certain level of fairness. If you need to issue remote or hybrid policies for certain employees but not others, you’ll need to create a strategy for determining how to implement these policies for some but not others.
Our recommendation, however, is to create as much cohesion in your office setting as possible. The fewer exceptions you make, the fairer the environment will be for everyone. Use certain basic principles to guide the policies you put in place and the decisions you make, so change is fair for all rather than a few select individuals.
While creating a return-to-office strategy can be challenging, it is possible if you consider all the complex variables that may be involved. Spencer Reed Group is here to help if you have any additional questions. We can also help you find top talent if your company is looking to hire more personnel as you transition back to the office. contact us today at 913-663-4400.