How to think when Returning to the Office
As the latest variant of Covid-19 seems to ease, we once again are beginning to consider a return to the office, possibly the ‘Final Return’. But what have we learned from our previous workplace returns when it comes to employee well-being, office environments, and recharging workplace relationships both offline and online? Here are some of our top tips for managing your workspace in 2022 as we begin yet another (and let's hope it will be the last!) workplace return.
Top Tips: Workplace Management When Employees Are Returning
1. Be Helpful To All
It is important to not underestimate this move. Whilst some employees will enjoy coming back to their workplace and getting back to daily interactions, others will fear this. There might be several reasons for that which you should consider having a plan for. They might have anxiousness when it comes to the health and well-being of their families or themselves. Studies have also shown that more people may be anxious about the health and well-being of their families if they return to a busy office in the midst of Covid, while others prefer to have their own personal workspaces where they can control the heat, the air and the comfort of their environments.
Be considerate to all staff - provide appropriate notice if you wish certain colleagues to return to the office. Consider if it is possible to continue flexible working-from-home procedures, and if this can’t happen, provide good communication with the staff affected.
2. Build Up Your Workspaces
Many of us have grown accustomed to our own personal workspaces, where we’ve been able to control the heating, what music to listen to and when we want to have a quick 5 minute coffee.
In previous post-lockdown returns, there were forced workplace returns where colleagues have found themselves irritated by the usual office environments that can be turbulent, where they have resented their outdated workspaces and wishing to be back at home in their own customized environments.
As we make a return, consider how you could further enhance your workspaces. Whether you are a large or small business, making some small enhancements can make the difference for your staff. Check out your heating in the office - can your colleagues control it? What about the workplace ambience - is it calming or too disruptive? Consider asking colleagues if they would like to use some music or headphones to help them focus. And what about that all important morning coffee - can your colleagues have the option of using a modern coffee machine? Get some inspiration from our client Republiken on how they improved their office work environment.
Whatever the enhancement, taking these previous lessons learnt with office returns will ensure that your colleagues feel satisfied with their workspaces in the ‘new norm’.
3. Focus on Relationships
There has been many turns the last years with off-on working from home and from the office. And this has undoubtedly had an impact on workplace relationships and your colleagues’ capacity to interact.
We’ve been so used to online meetings with a focused agenda - are your colleagues prepared to off-line relationships and cold talking around the coffee machine again? Be prepared to help your colleagues here and consider activities that you can build into your teams and weekly routines across the business to help ease colleagues back into the office and back into their workplace relationships and team-building.
Your business will benefit by providing the space needed to allow colleagues to grow accustomed to cultivating offline relationships once again within the office environment, and allow better communications to grow across your company in the long-term, whether in the office, back working from home or the mix between both that will fit your company the most.
- Be Helpful and don’t underestimate the move back to the office. Be extra kind to your colleagues and help them through their anxiety and doubts.
- Build Up Your Workplace and adapt to the fact that your colleagues might need to adjust their personal workplace to their preferences more than ever. Let them be in control and be open for their feedback here. Ask them actively if they need some changes or adjustment – that will definitely be appreciated.
- Focus on Relationships and team-building. Whether your company will be in-office, fully remote or a blend good relationships and team-building are key. In the end of the day they are main reasons your colleagues will stay over time. If you want to read more about how to engage your team while working remote you can read more here.