Working from home was convenient for some, especially those with long commutes and comfortable home offices. But for others, it was stressful. So many people were stuck at home trying to balance working full-time demanding jobs with managing kids, who were also attending school online from home. Some searched tirelessly for tips for starting a new job remotely and have never had an in-office experience.
Now that many businesses are returning to in-office days (or at least a hybrid environment), making the transition from working from home to an office may be tough, either way. Knowing what your business can do to make this time easier can help your company find success in this post-COVID world. There are many “return to office” strategies that managers can use to make the new normal a little less stressful. Here are our must-know tips for returning to work after COVID and how to make the transition a little easier on your employees.
Encourage Employees to Get Comfortable
Working from home meant enjoying the comforts of home. In the office, however, these homely comforts can seem far away, leading to discomfort and stress. Encourage your employees to make their cubicles or offices more like their workspace at home. They may choose to bring a blanket, a coffee pot, family photos, or a plant that makes their space look and feel more like home.
Set Up One-On-Ones to Plan for the Transition
Schedule time with staff to discuss their return. Find out what employee concerns are and listen with empathy. If they’re facing scheduling challenges or other problems as they return to the office, ask them what might help make their time in the office easier.
They may have simple solutions to their problems. If they don’t, write down their list of concerns and talk about them with other managers who may be going through the same thing and have suggestions or thoughts that you haven’t considered yet.
Know What Success in the Office Looks Like
Success when working from home and success when working in the office may look very different. Employees need to know when they’re doing well, and for that to happen, they need to know how to measure growth.
Take this time to re-evaluate your company’s metrics for success, and then communicate this information with your employees. If expectations have changed upon returning to the office, be sure that everyone is on the same page about what they need to do.
Establish a Communications Plan
Keep your employees in the loop about when they’ll be back in the office, how often they’ll be working there, and why returning to this in-person environment is important. Many people are resistant to change until they find out how this change will positively impact them.
Employees may still be concerned about COVID transmission when they come back to the office in large quantities. Incorporate information into your communications plans about how your office cleaning team will be taking measures to keep everyone safe.
Plan Events to Make This Time Positive
Company morale may be shaky during this time of change. This is natural. Plan events to make the time in the office a more positive experience overall. This may include an outdoor potluck, an office competition, or even a wellness challenge that gets employees engaged and reminds them of why working in the office – and with their coworkers – can be a positive thing. Create a friendly environment that makes everyone feel like part of a company family.
Work With a Professional Executive Coach
During times of transition and uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to have a proactive, positive attitude above all else. Listening empathetically, addressing staff concerns, and providing employees with tools to help make the return to the office a much more valuable experience. For more information about navigating this challenging situation, contact Mark Strong Coaching.