As we are slowly learning how to deal with COVID-19, more and more offices are having their workers return. Some do so gradually and give workers the option of choosing between working from the office or reaping the benefits of working from home. At the same time, others have everyone come in. But, whatever option you opt for, it is necessary to know how to make your employees feel welcome. So, here are our top tips for welcoming employees back to the office.
Welcoming employees back to the office
There are two things you need to keep in mind when welcoming employees back to the office. First, you need to ease the transition between working from home and working from the office. As you’ll soon learn, coming back to the office can bring a fair bit of stress. It is both in your and your employees’ best interest to deal with that stress as soon as possible.
Going back to the office can be pretty stressful, even for experienced employees.
Second, you need to keep track of productivity. Just like when your staff started working from home, productivity is going to be an issue. Keep in mind that their experience from working at home can change their approach to working. So, instead of forcing them to revert to old ways, you need to see how their at-home experiences can contribute to your everyday work. If you made any changes to the office, it is essential to onboard your employees and make sure that they understand how your new office is supposed to function.
The first thing to do is to let your employees know that you care. A simple welcome gift can go a long way in helping them feel welcomed and ensuring that they start their week with positive emotions. The gift itself doesn’t have to be anything big. Some chocolate, a nice drink, or even a pizza party can all be great welcome gifts for employees.
Provide health initiatives
As we have said, your employees are going through considerable stress, even if they are not showing it. Going back to work is a stressful process. And add to this the turbulent times we live in, at you’ll easily imagine what they are going through. So, to help your employees transition more easily, try to provide health initiatives. First, explain to them the dangers of stress, and try to give counsel on how to deal with it. The good idea is to have an open meeting and discuss what they are going through. Ideally, these meetings should spark a supporting conversation where your employees can share different stress management strategies. Just try to avoid the obvious mistake of making those meetings mandatory.
Watching educational videos or consulting with an experienced psychologist can be quite beneficial to you and your employees.
Stay open to office changes
Your workers going back to their workplace doesn’t mean that they should go back to the same office. One of the best times to move your business is when most of your workforce is online. If you find a suitable place for your office, make sure that you hire experienced office movers to assist you. The combination of capable movers and low office inventory will make your relocation the easiest possible process. But, it is paramount that you tackle it while your workforce is still working from home.
If you do move your office, try to leave room for interior office changes. Most office managers have an idea of what the office should look like. But, following that idea blindly leaves out employee input, which can be pretty valuable. So, try to design your office so that it is adaptable and your employees can have room to make it their own.
To stay efficient while working from home, your employees had to learn how to be autonomous. Yes, you probably implemented tracking technologies and regular meetings to keep employee productivity in check. But, no amount of oversight can motivate an unmotivated worker. While they were in the office, they had each other to rely on for extrinsic motivation. But, while working from home, they had to find and rely on intrinsic motivation to get the job done.
The main idea behind welcoming employees back to the office is to bring out the best in them.
If they already spent ample time developing their motivation, you’d be a fool not to use it for your benefit. The best way to do so is to give your employees autonomy. Let them organize their workspace and discover what helps them motivate each other. Your job here is to design your office not only to create more space to facilitate distancing but to support their independence. So make it spacious enough so that they have room to experiment. By giving your workers control over their workspace, you will make them feel trusted and help them adjust to working from the office.
Keep track of efficiency
As we said initially, the problem of workers returning to work isn’t only in making them feel welcomed. You will also have to deal with their efficiency and productivity. To make this possible, we suggest that you keep as many tracking tools and methods as possible. The mere fact that your employees worked from home means that you somehow had to track their performance. And while it might seem that you can pay attention to them in person, we suggest that you avoid doing so. If you have clear-cut numbers of how efficient they are, you will have a much easier time notifying them if they are dropping in performance. The idea is not to force them to work hard. But to enable them and bring out the best in their performance. Ideally, this should motivate them to become more tech-savvy and better themselves.
Welcoming employees back to the office won’t be easy, even for experienced office managers. Like when employees went to work from home, there will be unforeseen surprises and circumstances to deal with now that they are coming back. But, if you are attentive and trust your workers to do their best, we are sure that you will effectively tackle the issues at hand.