Just as transitioning to a remote workplace at the beginning of COVID-19 was a challenge for many people, returning to the office will be a difficult adjustment for many people. Fortunately, there are some steps that managers can take to make the transition easier by reassuring and accommodating employees.
Tips for Returning to Work
Make a Plan
The first step in returning to the office is to establish a plan that works for everyone. It may not be necessary or possible for some employees to return to the workplace immediately if they have other obligations, like caring for children, or are at a high risk of contracting the virus. Managers should approach employees individually to determine when they will return to the office. Clear office procedures should also be established for keeping everyone safe from infection before anyone returns, including providing safety precautions and having people return in phases.
Many people have become used to certain routines and perks of working at home. As employees return to the office, it is a good idea for managers to be considerate of the altered circumstances; leaders should consider making changes to the work routine. For example, it may be prudent to offer employees more opportunities to work from home regularly or relax the dress code somewhat. Also, be mindful that transitioning back into a professional environment will necessarily put a strain on your employees, and consider a gradual transition, as opposed to an immediate one.
The safety and comfort of your employees are of paramount importance to creating a positive workplace culture and environment, so before inviting anyone back, make sure that the workspace is adequately set up. If special equipment needs to be installed to keep employees safe, such as plastic shields for interacting with customers, make sure that it is ready. Move desks to comply with social distancing guidelines, and consider temporarily closing communal areas. Also, ensure that all essential equipment, like office supplies and computer accessories, are well-stocked and available to those who will need them.
While returning to work after such a long time can seem like a daunting task, a little consideration on the part of managers can help the transition go much more smoothly. Make sure to consider your employees’ circumstances and concerns to create a harmonious, efficient work environment.