The pandemic has changed the way businesses keep running and at present, most people are working from home. It has been the best way to keep working during the pandemic but no longer. Since vaccines are already approved, it is only a matter of time before employees can return to their offices again. However, there will be some challenges that the employer and the employees will face. Business owners need to anticipate the challenges and work around them to meet the demands. Here is what you can do to prepare to return to the office.
- Remember that employees may refuse to return
A lot of people will question the work practices at the office. Many employees will be of the opinion that if they can do the work from home, then why should they resume work from office. Employees will also try to avoid commute and would prefer the flexible office to home relation. Business owners need to consider this and start planning for it.
- Realign the business values
There will be a change in employee values. The pandemic has given an opportunity to the employees to understand the beliefs, values, and drive. You need to realign the employees back to their core values. Understand their current state of mind and where they are at. Start by living with an example and reinforce what the brand stands for.
- Respect the needs and time of the employee
Many employees took a while to get used to working from home but they have found it to be the new normal and are now enjoying it. Going back to the workplace will be hard on some employees and it is important to respect their time and needs. You need to be flexible to their schedule and adjust as per their needs. After having worked from home for a year, employees will find the commute troublesome. As a leader, it is important to find the right balance for the culture and employees. One may have to balance the situation by offering flexibility in terms of working from home one or two days a week.
- Understand how to deal with a split culture
Some employees may return to the office while many will prefer to work from home and the office culture may split. You need to level the playing field. According to John Ofield of Rosi Office Systems, you need to keep the employees in mind and make the necessary changes in the office furniture so as to maintain social distancing. If the meeting has both, online and remote staff, you will have to ask everyone to join the meeting virtually instead of crowding the conference room.
- Do not try to micromanage the employees
Your employees feel that they have effectively worked from home for a long time and they will look for the same freedom in working. Whenever they return to the office, they will not enjoy being managed by seniors. Micromanagers will be poorly treated as the employees have already proved their worth in the past year.
- Learn what makes the staff tick
It is important to understand what will make your staff tick. You can then implement training programs or work on ideas that benefit the employees. You also need to keep the mental health of your employees in mind and give them space and flexibility. An open response is needed from business heads to address the stress and uncertainty that many people will continue to have when working at the office. Further, you need to be empathetic and provide mental health resources that encourage a culture of self-care as your employees make the transition.
- Have a gradual transition period
You must remember that understanding habits is crucial. There are a few habits that take three to five months to take root and we have already been in lockdown for a year. Moving back to the office means changing the habits and creating new ones for yourself, employees, and the families. It is essential to have a slow transition period to allow the employees to build new habits and to get back to their routine.
- Remember personal safety
A huge challenge for organizations will be satisfying the legal requirements in terms of the personal safety of the workers and helping them cope with the stress of returning to the office. This challenge can be overcome by taking the necessary steps to reduce the risk to employees. You need to take traditional and innovative control measures to ensure the safety of employees in the organization. For example, if there is too much furniture in your office to support social distancing measures, consider working with the local Salvation Army donation pickup to remove the extra items and support your community.
These eight tips will help make the transition to the office easy and efficient for you. It is important to remember that the pandemic is far from gone and we must continue to take precautions.