Bringing Employees Back to the Office
Returning to work after a pandemic is an unsettling experience for everyone involved. Workers who have been away from the office for a year or longer may have mixed emotions upon their return.
Employers face several additional challenges when their employees return to the workplace, and there isn’t always a strategy to deal with them. A hasty retreat serves no one’s interests when no preparation has been given. Take some time instead to plan for a trouble-free exit and entry.
The first step in reintroducing employees to the workplace environment is to go through the modifications that have been made to ensure their safety and comfort. Examining updated regulations about the workplace may be necessary.
In other situations, it means thinking critically about industry leaders’ and innovators’ methods and best practices. It is also important to hear out workers’ worries and hopes.
Although the office environment may seem the same at first glance, things are about to change. It must be to support a versatile labor force in the wake of a pandemic. The following are some suggestions for making the transition back to the workplace less stressful and pleasant.
So, Who’s Going Back to the Office?
In London, 46% of workers reported working remotely in 2020, whereas in the United States, 42% of the workforce was telecommuting by June 2020.
According to recent polls, many workers are apprehensive about returning to work. As more people are becoming vaccinated and fewer new instances of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are being reported, we are gradually returning to in-person work settings.
Top management and leadership are more inclined to indicate they would return to work five days per week, but just half as many women as men report that they intend to do so.
A majority of telecommuters, 67 percent of “hybrid” employees, say they would be returning to the workplace this year, albeit just 13% say they will do so five days a week. About a quarter (24%) anticipate spending three or four days each week in the workplace. Here’s a quick run of stats for you:
- Twenty-one percent of workers said they would come in just once or twice a week.
- Nine percent will visit less often than once every seven days.
- Thirty-three percent said they wouldn’t be returning to their desks at any point.
Why Employees Feel Reluctant to Go Back to the Office Environment Today: 3 Important Reasons
Let’s look at some of the most prevalent reasons workers don’t want to return to the workplace and some approaches you can take to help them feel more in control and appreciated at this time of change.
Reason 1: Not Knowing Your Co-Workers in Real World
Twenty percent of workers have switched fields since the epidemic began. Because of the ease with which individuals may leave their jobs and find new ones, many people now work from home.
Many new employees have not yet had the opportunity to tour the headquarters, meet their colleagues in reality, or get a feel of the in-office corporate culture because they were hired remotely. They may experience anxiety or discomfort while interacting with others face-to-face. They’ve likely become used to working from home as well.
Reason 2: They Feel Burnt Out
Despite appearances, burnout may be at play while you’re seemingly productive. For others, the advent of remote work has meant more time away from family and increased stress at home due to the need to work late into the night.
Getting to and from work and mingling with co-workers has become a draining and pointless ordeal for many. Employees’ reluctance to go back to work regularly might have numerous causes, but burnout is often at the root.
Reason 3: The Feel More Productive Working Remotely
It’s undeniable that individuals can be effective from any location. Sixty-seven percent of remote employees who chose to work remotely during the epidemic reported being more efficient than they would have been in an office setting. That’s because there are fewer potential sources of disruption, such as chatty employees or the traffic and other common sounds in major cities.
The latest results from this Return to Work survey revealed that 31% of respondents cited difficult or talkative colleagues as the largest factor preventing them from returning to work. Many of them believe they can get as much done from the comfort of their own homes, where there are fewer interruptions.
7 Considerations to Restore Normality When Welcoming Employees Back into the Office
Consideration 1: Optimized Car Parking for Employees
How the COVID epidemic has affected workers’ modes of transportation back to the workplace has been given less consideration. The risk of contracting COVID increases with public transportation and carpooling.
To what extent would the new environment, with the employees returning to work, necessitate the use of extra business infrastructures, notably car park managing, to provide better security and flexibility to workers on their transportation?
One solution could be a parking system like Wayleadr Car Park Management Systems. The Wayleadr system enables workers and guests to reserve parking spots ahead of time for the times they anticipate they will be in the building. The service also caters to those needing parking for electric vehicles, disability vehicles, and for senior executives.
Consideration 2: Make Sure to Have Comprehensive and Clear Communication
If you want your staff to feel safe and secure upon returning to work, you must communicate your strategy for doing so clearly to them.
To what extent, for instance, will telecommuting be permitted in the future? If so, do they get to pick their hours, or will they be able to work from home just on certain days of the week? Must workers be present at all times for mandatory meetings or other office events? All of this must be determined, recorded correctly, and presented to employees in a timely way.
The following are additional considerations for an efficient communication plan.
- What procedures will you follow if an employee or customer is exposed to Covid?
- What preventative measures are you doing (such as mandating personal space between workers, handing out masks, or limiting the number of people working in a certain area) to keep employees safe?
- What measures will be taken to ensure that all workers are kept up-to-date on critical but fluid knowledge, such as suggested safety precautions, return-to-work deadlines, and recent innovations (including an outbreak that compels you to send employees away once more)?
Consideration 3: Begin by Rewarding Employees
Providing incentives is a great way to show gratitude to employees and make them feel valued in their roles. There are many opportunities to express gratitude to the staff. When they come back, you may greet them with unique presents.
Besides handwritten letters and recognition in the corporate newsletter or blog, there are other ways to show appreciation to workers. Lunches and bowling trips are just two examples of low-cost incentives that could be enough to get more people back to work. And the best source of gratitude is totally free, just notice when they’ve done something well and acknowledge it with some words of recognition and thanks.
Consideration 4: Make Sure to Create a Proper Routine
You’ve probably gotten good at calling into meetings on Zoom at the last moment because you work from home. The idea of a typical morning ritual may have already faded from your mind.
Consider the steps to transition from your present routine to what you require. Find out when you should get up and whether there is anything you can do to help yourself at home.
Begin to think about how you might include tiny elements of the project into your existing routine so that you can work up to the full amount of work that will be required.
Consideration 5: Get Rid of Office Distractions
Distractions at work have a detrimental effect on worker morale and, by extension, productivity. Udemy recently conducted a poll that found that 34 percent of workers believe that distractions in the workplace lower morale and reduce productivity.
Most individuals work quicker as a means of making up for these interruptions. Another cost of working faster is that employees get more stressed out and make almost twice as many mistakes, as shown in research conducted at the University of California, Irvine.
Consideration 6: Evaluate Potential Risks
Policy implementations that encourage employees to return to work after an absence always carry some danger. Except in certain situations, it’s not a good idea to treat workers differently since it might lead to allegations of racism, unequal treatment, and legal consequences for the company.
Employer choices should be discussed with an HR specialist or legal adviser. A comprehensive risk appraisal and risk management plan should be discussed upon return to the office.
The epidemic should have served as a wake-up call to update our crisis response and business continuity strategies. When you go back to the office, discuss any new or expanded insurance coverage needs you may have with your broker.
Consideration 7: Amenities Take on New Meaning Post-Pandemic
In today’s world, the most important workplace luxuries contribute to a more humane and fulfilling work experience on all levels (physical, emotional, and spiritual).
In addition to providing employees with walking trails, workout areas, and healthy food options, these organizations also provide areas to relax and unwind.
Coffee shops, bookstores, and office lounges are all ‘third spaces’ that provide workers with a casual setting to get mentoring, immerse themselves in the company’s culture, and expand their professional and social networks.
This may, in the end, be a free-flowing exchange of ideas. When executives see signs of burnout and exhaustion among their staff, they may be tempted to have everyone report back to work immediately.
The ability to adapt, be humble, analyze, empathize, communicate, and have a high emotional intelligence may take you far.