How to Successfully Transition Employees Back to the Office
As your office building opens its doors to employees, there are many caveats to explore. Imagine the dad who, for the first time since his kids were born, was able to join his family for lunch, drive the carpool, and put his infant down for a nap while working from home. Or the mom who avoided a long, stressful commute and was able to take her son to baseball practice, never missing a game. Many people found joy and ease that came with working remotely, getting to experience a refreshing work-life balance. However, others are counting down the days when they can work in their office, who find it easier to “leave work at work” when their work is separate from their home. Many found it difficult to ignore the dirty dishes in the sink, the laundry piling up, or the dog barking while attempting to focus on a project for a client. And singles who live alone found the days to be long, quiet, and lonely with little social interaction.
So, what’s better for your employees? How do you meet the needs of many types of people and family dynamics? How do you promote the flexibility and autonomy remote working brought to the team while also providing more structure and camaraderie?
Many companies are oscillating between creating a hybrid format where their employees work some days from home and some days in the office or returning full-time to the office. A survey with Mercer indicates that 40% of employers intend to bring their employees back to the office Monday through Friday. While employees favor hybrid working, 29% of employers plan to bring their staff on-site one or two days and 17% will expect their employees to be in the office three or four days.
5 Principles to Remember Moving Forward
As leaders navigate a hybrid work solution or bring their employees back to the office full-time, it’s critical to retain your best people and elevate employee satisfaction. Here’s how to do that:
1. Trust But Verify
The pandemic and forced closures taught the business world a valuable lesson. That is, “I’m working from home” isn’t code for “I’m getting paid to watch Netflix.” People worked hard, completed tasks, and remained efficient while balancing their kid’s schedules and turning dining rooms into makeshift offices. Don’t stifle the trust that was built between employees and the leadership by setting hard lines and inflexible expectations. As you set up new guidelines and expectations moving forward, eliminate some rigidity associated with the workforce pre-covid, and let your team know that you believe they will continue to do what they say they will do and get their work done.
2. Know Your Competition
Don’t lose your best people over something like schedule preference. Know what your competing companies are offering their teams. Do they allow their employees to decide which days they will be in the office? Do they encourage hybrid working or offer flextime? Do they create opportunities for their remote workers to have social interaction? If your organization remains inflexible, key people may be tempted to look elsewhere and find a workplace that better meets their needs.
3. Create a Phase-In Plan
Enforcing a strict start date for employees to return to the office may be too difficult. For many of your employees, it will be a stark change from remote working to full-time on-site. Consider easing them into the office with a unique phase-in plan. Perhaps only weekly meetings are required in-office. Or invite your employees to on-site celebrations and social gatherings to get your people excited to be together again. Ease into it by only requiring employees to work from the office one day a week, but leaving the office open for those who wish to come into work or want to use office space for other meetings. This may energize your employees and get them mentally prepared to spend more hours in the office.
4. Provide Options
As you continue to show that you trust your employees, give them the option to set their own schedules. Allow them to tell you which environment, or what times, allow them to be more productive, efficient, and satisfied with their job. This gives your employees more control and flexibility, two things many came to love about working within a pandemic.
5. Be Flexible in All Areas
When it comes to practicing flexibility, it’s important to remember that location is not the only area that matters. Where your employees work is not the end of the discussion on flexibility. To grow as an organization during a time where nothing is certain, be flexible in work hours, and don’t be afraid to redefine what constitutes a “work-week.” Allow your employees to be flexible in their roles and remove rigid expectations on who does the work and how they do it. Innovation and creativity in all areas can lead to increased outputs.
To learn more about creating a positive work environment that increases employee satisfaction, reduces conflict, and enhances team unity, contact us at Trinity Training and Development today.