The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we work. For many of us, working from home has become the new normal. But as businesses begin to reopen, employees will have to readjust to office life. Here are 13 tips to help employees make the transition.
Set up regular check-ins with your team
It’s important to stay connected with your team, even if you’re not in the same physical space. Set up regular check-ins, whether that’s daily, weekly, or monthly. This will give everyone a chance to catch up and touch base on what’s going on in their lives. If people are struggling with things like post-covid cognitive difficulties, or even post-traumatic stress, you can give them an outlet to discuss it. You can also use this time to give updates on your projects.
Take advantage of technology
There are a lot of great tools out there that can help you stay connected with your team. Use video conferencing software to have virtual meetings, or use collaborative tools like Slack or Trello to keep everyone on the same page. You can help people ease back into office life by continuing with virtual meetings, regardless of whether people are in the office or not. This way, people don’t feel like they are too close to their colleagues.
Be flexible with hours
People’s schedules have changed a lot over the last couple of years. Be flexible with people’s hours and allow them to work when they’re able to. If someone needs to take a break in the middle of the day to pick up their kids from school, let them.
If they want to come in early or stay late to get some work done, that’s okay too. You don’t want people to feel like they have to rush to get everything done during traditional office hours. What’s more, your top talent is increasingly demanding flexibility from you.
Create a sense of community
Many people are struggling with the idea of going back to an office after being away for so long. To help ease this transition, try to create a sense of community in your office.
This can be done by holding regular social events or even just having a designated break room where people can chat and relax. You can also encourage people to bring in their own food and drink to share with their colleagues.
Create a work-from-home plan
If you’re working from home, it’s important to have a plan in place. Make sure you know what your hours are going to be and how you’ll be staying connected with your team. You may also want to set some ground rules for working from home, such as not working in bed or taking breaks every few hours.
This will help you stay focused and productive, and it’ll make the transition back to office life much easier. It is important not to resist work from home simply because you don’t personally agree with it. If people have managed to remain productive and collaborate well over the last few years, don’t be overly rigid about continuing this arrangement.
Encourage people to take time for themselves
Working from home can be very isolating, so it’s important to encourage people to take time for themselves. This can be anything from going for a walk to taking a yoga class, to just sitting and reading for a few minutes. It’s important to find ways to unwind and relax, both mentally and physically.
Otherwise, you’ll quickly start to feel overwhelmed and stressed. You might consider helping people subsidize their hobbies or even offering on-site childcare.
Set up a buddy system
If you have employees who are struggling with the transition back to office life, set up a buddy system. This can be someone who they can go to for help and support. The buddy can help them with things like finding their way around the office or getting acclimated to the new schedule. It’s important to have someone to lean on, especially during those first few weeks.
Offer mental health support
If you have employees who are struggling with anxiety or depression, it’s important to offer them support. This can be anything from providing counselling services, to offering discounts on mental health apps. You might also consider hosting regular workshops on topics like self-care and stress management.
You can also promote mental health awareness by having a designated mental health day, or by wearing purple on World Mental Health Day.
The return to office life post-pandemic is going to be a slow process. Be patient with your employees and give them time to adjust. It’s going to take some time for everyone to get used to the new normal.
Have an open-door policy
Make sure you have an open-door policy in place, so employees feel comfortable coming to you with any concerns or questions. This is especially important for those who are struggling with the transition back to office life. You want them to feel like they can come to you for help whenever they need it.
Give employees space
Some people may not want to be around others, even if they’re in the same office. If this is the case, it’s important to give them space. This might mean letting them work from home a few days a week or giving them a private office. It’s important to respect people’s personal space and boundaries, especially if they’re struggling with anxiety or depression.
Encourage healthy lifestyle choices
When people are under a lot of stress, they often turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as smoking or drinking. It’s important to encourage healthy lifestyle choices, such as exercise, meditation, and healthy eating. You might even consider offering discounts on gym memberships or healthy food options. A large component of sound mental health is good physical health, so it’s important to encourage both.
It’s important to recognize when people are doing a good job, even if they’re just meeting expectations. This can be anything from a simple thank-you note to a more formal recognition at a team meeting. You might even consider giving out small prizes or gift cards for employees who go above and beyond.
In summation, welcoming people back to the office in a way that is respectful of their needs and concerns is paramount to a smooth and productive transition. Incorporating some or all of the tips above will help to create a more positive and supportive work environment for everyone.
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