As restrictions loosen across the country and companies begin to feel a sense of normalcy following COVID-19 closures, attention shifts to returning to work.
How do companies make sure that returning to in-person work is not only efficient and well-managed but safe for everyone making their way back to the office? There are ways to prepare, both mentally and organizationally, on both the employee and employer sides.
1. Review Safety Protocols
Employers may have introduced new safety protocols to ensure a return to work is safe for everyone who has been working remotely. That can mean processes that monitor COVID-19 vaccinations, distributing information about vaccine access, or promoting hybrid models to reduce the number of returning employees all at once. It’s important to know what your place of work is doing during the transition.
Those in charge of any transition efforts should be offering information to those returning to the office, especially you’re rescreening employees before their return. HR should have the answers if you’re unsure about transition policies.
2. Seek Opportunities to Reconnect
For those who have been truly working from home over the last year, a return to work can be jarring. Employers concerned by that disconnect should be planning ways to bring the team back together physically, even if it isn’t organic at first.
It could be a welcome-back gathering where the purpose isn’t business but catching up. Or it could be more structured, a group meeting where employees have the safe space to air suggestions about how to make the transition to in-person work more effective.
As an employee, make an effort to find ways to reconnect with your co-workers, even your employers. Be honest with any challenges as they come so that you’re not alone in addressing those challenges.
3. Evaluate Old Ways of Doing Business
In some companies, the pandemic allowed organizations to look at how they go about doing business and whether they were doing so most effectively. A return to work can mean a fresh start for your company.
Are there ways to introduce new technologies that cropped up throughout the COVID-19 pandemic on a more permanent basis? Is remote work or even hybrid work possible for some staff with a more difficult transition? What ideas do you have that worked remotely and could be introduced with in-person work as an employee?
Consider ways to cut down on the waste, especially when it comes to wasted employee time. Which meetings could be an email?
If you live somewhere with pretty ideal weather conditions year-round, are there ways to do more outdoors and mix things up outside the old conference rooms? Seek ways to improve the quality of life at the office.
4. Create New Routines
Employers will have the added challenge of their employees navigating in-person work and different timetables at home.
Some offices are embracing remote work for the foreseeable future after seeing the benefits outweigh the challenges. Employees with children may be welcoming their kids back to school while simultaneously navigating in-person work or keeping children on virtual schedules until the following school year. That means one household may be experiencing different levels of transition.
Creating new routines can then be a challenge but an important one to address before returning to the office. You may be out of practice around set schedules, meeting times, even waking up with enough time to get going in the morning after having avoided a commute all this time. Build-in more time than you think for that first few weeks back to start.
5. Be Flexible in Your Return to Work
As you return to in-person work, flexibility will be necessary, both in how employees manage added responsibilities of in-person work and how employers manage added stressors their workers may be feeling.
Companies are a business, indeed, but kindness and some accommodations will go a long way in boosting employee morale. If things aren’t working as employees return to work, it doesn’t mean the transition has been a failure. It just means management should make adjustments.
6. Recognize the Past Year’s Challenges
Employers have certainly been through a lot over the past year, figuring out how to keep things solvent while unable to see their employees in person. Employees are coming out of the trenches, as well.
Find ways to address the past year’s challenges before moving forward. Allow everyone to feel seen, even brainstorm ways to communicate potential paths forward and expectations. Keep an eye out for ways employees may be feeling some distress not only over a return to work but how to navigate their lives more generally post-pandemic.
DataCheck is Here to Help
During times of transition, it can be challenging to know where to start. At DataCheck, we have over 20 years of experience working with companies through those hard times, providing comprehensive employee screening services to relieve some of the burdens on organizations navigating transitional periods.