Back-to-Office Work Mode: How to Ease the Transition
With cities and towns around the world being confronted with wave after wave of the Covid-19 pandemic and its variants, much of the workforce resorted to working from home. However, statistically speaking, we all will have to return to the office at one point or another. So, in light of this back-to-office migration that lies ahead of us, we here at Pure Staffing Solutions have put together this blog. In this article, we will be going over all the steps you can take to properly integrate your employees into the back-to-office mode.
We will be going over the essentials here. From planning effective back-to-office communications to how you can greet your new employees. It’s a new world, and it’s time that we change with it to make the best of this unfortunate situation. So, without further delay, let’s get into it!
Company-wide Communication is the Key
Let’s be honest, returning to the office after such a long period will not be easy. It won’t be easy for your employees, or you as the employer. However, nothing is impossible with a little proper planning and plenty of healthy communication. This brings us to our first point. When it comes to the back-to-office movement, one has to ensure that there is clear and company-wide communication to help ease the transition.
Some of your employees might be living out of town or even out of the country for that matter. The fact is, the return won’t be straightforward, no matter how you slice it. Therefore, everyone needs to be given plenty of notice. They need time to plan, commute, arrange care for their children or other family members, buy new work clothes and sort out other things as well.
It’s not as easy as packing the office briefcase and setting a few alarms. People have to uproot their lives in some cases and reorganize their entire way of day-to-day living. The best thing you can do is give everyone plenty of time to make the necessary arrangements and push the message across all your available channels of communication. Get the whole team on the same page.
What Should You Include in Your Communications?
You can have many different forms of disseminating the communication. There is a more traditional method of emailing everyone. You could also reach out to them via social media, phone calls and so on. However, you should always have an email for the sake of formality. So, what should this standard email contain in a situation that is the furthest from the standard? For one, you need to set the date for when the office is officially reopening. You should also mention all the necessary Covid-19 measures that are being put into place and what you expect of employees once they return.
Things like social distancing norms, sanitary conduct, wearing masks in the office and so on. Leave employees with clear-cut instructions for the days that they have to come in. However, the emphasis needs to be on their well-being so be clear about the flexibility of these conditions. Finally, provide the contact information of a designated contact person to address all the concerns or questions employees might have.
Get Feedback and Stay Flexible
As mentioned before, people have grown rather accustomed to working from home. They have had to learn new habits, get into different routines and arrange their lives around this format. With this being the case, flexibility and patience are essential if you want happy employees. The best way to go about this is to have a healthy balance of feedback and a staggered reintegration of the back-to-office format.
When we say feedback, we mean something along the lines of a questionnaire. Ask some essential questions that will give you an idea of what employees feel about this back-to-office situation. Ask them if they feel comfortable, if they feel that there are enough safety precautions in place and even how you as an employer can make the transition easier for them.
While some may be eager to get out of the house, others may not be as comfortable with concern for their health and the like. This is where the staggered reintegration comes in. Once you have the feedback from employees, you can use the information to formulate a staggered strategy.
Introduce staggered work timings or shift timings to avoid overcrowding in the office space. Assign certain days for certain team members to be present in the office. If you can afford it, make the return to the office completely optional! Remember the whole point of this exercise is to keep business running smoothly while staying flexible and accommodating of everyone’s needs.
“The art of life is a constant readjustment to our surroundings.“ – Kakuzo Okakaura, Japanese Author
Is the Hybrid Work Model the Best Option?
Speaking of the remote working concept and making the back-to-office transition optional, the hybrid working models could be a good option. Essentially, it is a combination of employees working on-site and remotely. Thankfully, this is possible these days thanks to technology. Using message boards, video-conferencing platforms and work-tracking apps to include everyone is a streamlined process. Encouraging cross-team socials is a great idea to get team members talking and openly communicating. Remember, we all kind of got used to the relative isolation of the work-from-home model.
Now with half the team at home and half at the office, there are bound to be some gaps. Just make sure that if there is any social event at the office you include the people working from home too. We have video conferencing, so use the tools you have!
When all is said and done, it is up to you, as the employer, to decide if the hybrid model is working. You need to do regular check-ins with both at-home-workers and the office team. Gauge their satisfaction and productivity to make an informed decision going forward.
Take it one step at a time. There is no rush in getting back to the office. If you have managed to keep things going in the pandemic, then chances are, your business will still be fine for a few more weeks. Give everyone the opportunity and the option to choose the back-to-office workflow. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is not a race, it is a marathon. So, pace yourself, stay safe and good luck!