Folks have grown quite accustomed to working from home. The concept of waking up and working from the same exact place was a foreign one at first, but many people have made it work and some even prefer it to their old working environments. With restrictions easing and vaccinations readily available to those who want it, many companies are thinking about how they can navigate this “new normal” as they make plans for staff to return to the office.
Whether your organizational goals involve a full-time return to the office or a hybrid remote scheduling option, it’s important to prepare your employees for the transition. Rather than setting an immediate date with mandatory attendance, consider how you can help staff ease back into it. And more importantly, how you can ensure they feel supported. Here are 6 fun ways to slowly, but surely welcome employees back into the office.
Plan a summer outing
With summer officially underway, a company-organized summer outing could be a great icebreaker event to welcome employees back and allowing them to co-mingle again in a social setting. A majority of employees haven’t seen their colleagues in-person in over a year and a no-pressure, social gathering of folks to catch up would be a great opportunity to help ease any jitters or anxieties about returning back to the office.
Offer flexible scheduling options
Announcing a set date to welcome employees back to the office might not go over well, especially if it feels sudden. On the other hand, hybrid schedules are a step in the right direction. Creating schedules for employees to start coming into work a couple of days a week is a great way to help staff mentally prepare for the transition. Going further to allow employees to have a say in their schedule can mitigate some stress on the home front as well. Slowly, but surely is the way to go.
Encourage team building and interactive sessions
With most meetings or interactions taking place over email, team chats, or video calls, your team may be feeling a little socially awkward. To restore camaraderie, setting up team building and interactive sessions amongst employees is a great idea. Organizing meetings and fun initiatives for employees to interact within their teams and across departments will help solidify a strong team environment. It will also give employees the chance to share new, efficient tactics they might’ve picked up over the last year. Not to mention, discussing how they coped throughout the unprecedented circumstances of the past year can be very therapeutic for employees moving forward.
Food & Competition
It was such a luxury to be able to prepare lunch/dinner and simultaneously finish up a project while working from home. Offering catered breakfasts, lunches, or snacks on occasion would be a well-recepted incentive to welcome employees back into the office. For those that crave competition over the culinary gifts, setting up in-office goals for employees to strive for with some sort of benefit or perk attached to them might get some folks out of their homes and back in the workplace.
Establish new safety protocols
Who said safety can’t be fun? A clean, safe work environment should be a priority for all employers. Setting up sanitizing stations and having the office cleaned more regularly will be a benefit in the eyes of concerned employees. If you want to get creative and fun with it, offer some company-branded PPE items.
Consider facilitating a homier workplace
Getting up from the desk at home and moving around the house was a subtle, yet therapeutic perk of remote work. Being a bit more lenient with employees in the workplace should reflect this. As long as employees are following the proper protocols, allowing them to go for midday walks and take breaks should help with the transition from home office to desk. Even going further to set up an area in the office for employees to unplug and relax for a bit could go a long way.