Whether your team still plans on working remotely or returning to the office, it’s important to put the right steps in place for them to thrive. As some businesses start to begin their journey back to working from the office, there are a few considerations that should be made to ensure this transition is as smooth as possible.
The first step to planning a return to your office should be to follow the recommendations given by your government. Safety should be prioritised at all steps of a return to office plan and proper consideration given to the relevant medical advice.
Before communicating an intent to return to the office, we would recommend first gauging your team’s thoughts on returning to an office environment and most importantly discover any concerns that may be troubling them.
We recommend sending out a survey to your teams to understand if they’re feeling anxious, excited or indifferent about returning to the office. A decision that has taken into consideration the results of these surveys will be best suited to your business. Our customers can easily send out a pulse to their organisation to discover their thoughts on returning to the office. Below is the form we used internally and have shared with our customers.
If you’re interested in pulsing these forms out to your teams, we’re offering them for free as part of our Essentials Platform. We also offer a range of wellbeing and check-in forms that can help you keep a finger on the pulse of your organisation.
When planning your return to the office, there are a few important things to consider with your team.
As many governments suggest a staggered return to reduce the spread of COVID-19, it’s important to understand the different methods and how this could impact your team productivity.
Staggering a return to office has many benefits besides lessening the shock of returning to the office full time. A slow or staggered return to office will see less community transmission of COVID-19 as there are fewer interactions in public and in office.
Options for a staggered return
A few organisations have chosen to move their businesses to be distributed permanently, and maybe some of your team members have identified this as being the best working scenario for them. If this is the case, you may need to have some conversations around how this will work with team members who have asked for this.
Striking a balance between those who are working from home and from office doesn’t need to be a difficult task. Take some of the ideas you may have integrated when your office was fully distributed and include them in your distributed workforce. Pay special attention to check-in regularly with your distributed team members and include them in the office culture as much as possible.
Regardless of how you decide what’s best for your team, there is one thing that is imperative to going back to the workplace, and that’s having a safe and hygienic workspace. Putting restrictions on how many people are allowed in the office to defining
Keeping your workspace safe:
If returning to the office is the right thing for your team, consider every step your employee will take to reach the office. Will they be catching public transport, perhaps cycling or driving? It may be best to stagger the start time for your team members so that they’re avoiding peak hour on public transport, or avoiding excess interaction in after ride facilities.
Providing some flexibility in working hours will also help to assist parents who are taking their children to school or dealing with homeschool responsibilities. An environment where your team members are able to set their own hours is a good step towards creating trust and fostering a positive return to work.
If you’re in the fortunate circumstance where welcoming your workers back includes those who have been stood down, you may need to approach the return from a different angle. If you haven’t been communicating regularly with your team members who have been stood down, you should start doing so sooner rather than later if you’re expecting them to return to their previous position.
Take into account the mental state that your team members may be in when receiving information on their return. Be empathetic to their reactions and listen accordingly to what they may need to assist their return. Just like with your employees who have continued working, ask them if they feel safe to return and under what conditions would be preferable for them.
Be clear with the time frames involved and give as much notice as possible. Your stood down team members may be on government support which may need to change or they might need to make childcare arrangements. At every step, make sure that communication is an open dialogue and that you’re open to receiving feedback to how the process is tracking. Remember that there is no right way to return your workforce, and this is also a new experience for most likely all parties involved, so patience and awareness should be prioritised.
No matter where you are in the world, if your teams are preparing to return to the office they may not be staying there permanently due to future flare ups of COVID-19. Set in place a series of processes that can be undertaken in short notice to facilitate your people going back to their home offices with ease. For example, if your employees need access to technology, make it easily accessible and available for pickup after hours.
Organise with your leadership team a contingency plan to be enacted if one of your employees does come down with a case of COVID-19.
If you need help surveying employees about returning to work or keeping in touch with stood down employees sign up for our free HR Platform.