The past year and a half has been an unprecedented time in the world and that includes in the workplace. Most companies never thought it was possible to do what they do from home, and have spent time and resources to support a safe working environment, while ensuring business continuity.
As companies begin to discuss bringing employees back to the office, employers may be feeling apprehensive about how to transition their team back into the workplace in a way that is safe and considerate to their employees. If you are wondering how to ensure you are keeping your employees in mind during this transition, you are already hitting our number one recommendation – talk to your employees!
Here are some additional insights on how to do just that:
Start by taking a look at your company’s policies and consider if any of them need to be re-written to better suit the current state of workplace environments post-pandemic. Because the landscape of the work world has continued to change so dramatically over the course of even just the past few months, this may be a good time to review your workplace’s safety/sanitation, clocking in/out, dress code policies etc. and reintroduce them to your staff.
Far too often, organizations will simply go with “how it has always been done”. Taking the time to review the requirements, and ensure you are taking an inclusive lens, will ensure you are creating a people first environment.
Pro-tip: If your company needs assistance with this, the HR team at Career Contacts is always ready to help! Whether it is simply a review, or a complete overhaul – we are here to support our clients in the best way possible. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how!
1. Recognize that returning to the office does not have to be an all or nothing decision!
Create a hybrid model where employees are asked back to the office in a way that makes sense and ensure you are creating a continuous dialogue to invite discussion. If your business has not been negatively affected by your teams working from home, dig deep into why you feel everyone needs to come back
2. Take your time with your transition back
If you do decide that being in the office is really the best course of action, consider introducing a work-from-home, work-in-office hybrid system where employees can get reacclimated to working from the office slowly instead of all at once. This will ensure that your team doesn’t feel overwhelmed by a sudden drastic change in their daily routine and can allow them to discuss how the transition is going.
Ensure that whatever decisions are being made are announced gradually and with plenty of warning for your employees.
The pandemic created drastic changes for everyone and giving your team enough time to readjust their schedules and lives is going to play a fundamental role in allowing them a stress-free transition.
3. Going back to our first tip – talk to your people
A step that is vitally important not to overlook is talking to your team about what they want and need at this time. How do they feel about the transition and do they have any preferences on how to move forward as a company?
This can be done by sending out a company-wide survey or by taking time to meet with your employees in a group setting or one-on-one to hear their thoughts and concerns. Doing this is an essential part of letting your team know that they are heard and valued.
Pro Tip: Did you know that the 3 main reasons why leadership want people back in the office are
- Performance management
- Oversight and
- Ability to collaborate and build meaningful connections
At Career Contacts, we have spent the last year and a half building out robust remote performance management programs, creating leadership courses to provide additional resources on how to lead remote teams, and also have a list of employee engagement ideas that have seen meaningful connections.
There are many ways to answer the above fears, and back in the office does not have to be the only solution.
4. Keep in mind that life circumstances may have changed significantly for the people on your team.
From having to implement different childcare/schooling routines for their children, to moving to a new home, people world-wide have felt the effects of the pandemic on many if not all aspects of their lives. Some people may now have limited access to transportation if public transit has become scarce in their area, or if they no longer have access to a car.
Did you know that the pandemic provided Career Contacts with an opportunity to go Global? Simply by sheer necessity, our cross-border restrictions ended up created an ability for us to open a US office and provide opportunities for our team members to work outside of Vancouver effectively, and efficiently.
Take care to make sure that your company is not only considering what your teams have gone through this past year, but also ensure you are supporting them with those changes. It can be assumed based on the sheer number of COVID cases and deaths, that almost every member of your team has either had COVID, knows someone who had COVID, or has lost someone to COVID. These experiences have lasting effects and this needs to be kept in mind when creating an empathetic work environment.
Being that this is an unparalleled time in the world, this transition back into the office is going to be a new and potentially strange experience for employees and employers alike. It’s clear that for a workplace to have a healthy and smooth transition for everyone, people-first companies have a responsibility to support their team members in every way they can. By keeping these points in mind, your staff’s reintroduction to the office can be a small victory in the midst of what has been an extremely trying time.
For more info and HR tips check out the other blogs in our Human Resources category!