The pandemic has completely changed the way we think about working in offices and remotely. Companies have responded in various ways. Some have had such a positive experience working from home that they have decided to go completely remote. Others are adamant that returning to the office is the best option. And, of course, many businesses are now taking a hybrid approach.
Suppose your company uses a hybrid working model or encourages employees to return to the office. In that case, you should prepare a strategy of how your employees will work in the future and how to communicate the return to office plan. Communication is the key in every organization, so it is crucial to have clear and open conversations. That is why we are sharing several tips to ease your work.
You must ensure that there is no confusion in employees’ minds regarding their return to work. That is why you have to discuss the return to office strategy with your employees, explain the situation, and hear them out. In an ideal situation, the best approach is communicating 1-to-1. Still, if your company has many employees, you could create a survey for them to complete and include them in decision-making.
Of course, your employees will be skeptical at first, but you should introduce the plan to everyone (after discussing it with them and taking their input) in advance. Having personal contact with your employees is crucial, so firstly, hold a meeting where everyone can express their concerns. Following the meeting, you should share the plan in written form so that your employees can read and comprehend it independently. There will be less confusion this way. Even if your employees have reservations, make sure you listen to them and share the solutions to the raised issues with the entire team.
Launch the return to office strategy with clarity about when and why employees need to be in person. It is not enough to say that employees must return to the office. Instead, it would be best if you were more specific about why the return to the office is required and how the in-person presence fits into the organization’s broader vision and strategy.
According to a Gartner study, flexibility is critical to employee productivity. Working with employers on their return-to-work strategies, experts have discovered that employers who communicate flexibility, open-mindedness, and a willingness to collaborate will build quick and long-term employee loyalty. Not to mention the improved well-being of employees.
Make returning to the office feel like a festivity—plan social and networking events to engage employees and introduce them to one another. You could give a welcome back gift or care package to each employee. Hold an all-hands meeting to welcome employees and clarify what is ahead. Create a Welcome Back newsletter to drive traffic to the intranet page and encourage communication.
Keeping a positive work environment boosts employee morale, retention, and productivity. Improve the company’s office environment by giving employees space and privacy to do their work, allowing choosing the workspace themselves, providing a comfortable workplace for physical health with adjustable height desks and ergonomic chairs, encouraging exercise, and creating recreational areas. Hosting events or team-building expresses gratitude, builds trust, and ignites enthusiasm.
These are the main steps before returning employees to the office. Not forgetting the ongoing communication after the return to office strategy is implemented is crucial. Employees want to feel needed and be heard, so ask them how things are going and how they feel. Most importantly, use that feedback to make changes to your plan and policy. But be sincere. Taking their feedback and failing to act on it is worse than not asking at all.