5 Ways to Prepare Your Team to Go Back to the Office
Your efforts today are critical for ensuring your team’s success tomorrow.
Vaccine rates are up. As a result, companies are increasingly taking steps to return their employees to the office.
Some people are thrilled to return to the office and regain a sense of normalcy. They miss the energy they receive from other people and are ready to socialize daily.
Other people dread returning to the office and are full of new fears and anxieties. After months and months of intentional social distancing, it will be a hard transition for them to once again be surrounded by their colleagues.
Many employees simply want a hybrid schedule going forward. In fact, this survey by LiveCareer found that ⅓ of employees would quit their jobs if they were forced to return to the office full time. Is your office ready for the world of hybrid?
With so many different needs to meet, True Colors International recommends following these five ways to best prepare your team to go back to the office.
1. Create Clarity with Policies and Procedures
During times of transition, better communication is needed. Creating clarity where possible will go a long way to make your team comfortable with returning to the office. What are your challenges going back to the office? What new policies and procedures need to be thought through before everyone returns? Are masks required for everyone or only those who aren’t
vaccinated? Will a hybrid schedule be offered, or will people be expected to return to their pre-pandemic hours in the office? Will there be a limit on the number of people in an elevator at a time? Your employees are full of questions. Doing your best to think these questions through before your staff returns will help the transition back to the office go more smoothly.
2. Provide a Safe Environment
In the name of safety, a lot of drastic changes were made to the workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic. Just because there is a vaccine now and many people are itching to get “back to normal” doesn’t mean there aren’t people on your team still concerned. It’s imperative that you show you care for their safety — physically and mentally — if you want to have a successful return to the office.
In addition to lessening the stress of uncertainty by creating new policies and procedures, what else can you do to provide a safe workplace environment? Are there any improvements to your office’s physical space that need to be made? For example, a better air filtration system or more spaced-out cubicles. Are there any health and wellness benefits that need to be added or re-incorporated? For instance, free counseling sessions or lunchtime yoga classes.
3. Communicate Regularly
In order to best prepare your team to go back to the office, it is critical that you communicate regularly with them as changes are made. Consider creating a webpage or shared folder that houses the most recent policies, procedures, changes, and contacts should people have questions. This will give your staff the agency to look into matters as they need to. Additionally, scheduling an email that will regularly update your employees is a smart way to keep them constantly in the loop. Decide if you want the email to be daily, weekly, twice a month, or even monthly. Then stay true to your schedule so people can rely on it for consistent updates.
4. Survey Employees
Before your employees return to the office, have everyone complete an anonymous survey to help you understand how they are feeling. When reviewing the results, take them to heart. Accommodate needs and alleviate fears where possible.
This is your team, and you want them to be able to focus on their work when they return. You don’t want your staff distracted by fear or disgruntled because they’d rather be working from home.
5. Plan a Shared Experience
Your team hasn’t been together in a long time, and many people going back to the office will have a hard time reconnecting in person. Plus, you likely haven’t offered any personal or professional development since before the pandemic began. Consider planning a shared experience like one of True Colors’ Workshops or Live Shows to kick off working in person again.
True Colors programming is designed to help employees gain self-awareness and an understanding of others around them, which leads to participants also developing an appreciation for their colleagues’ differences. By planning a shared experience facilitated by True Colors, your employees will come together in a fun, interactive way that leads to a sense of collective accomplishment. This will set the foundation for genuine relationship building and honest dialogue within your team.
Build a Strong Foundation Now
By following these five ways to prepare your team to go back to the office, you’ll build a strong foundation of team unity. During a time fraught with different opinions and desires on what the “new normal” should look like, your efforts today are critical for ensuring your team’s success tomorrow.