Preparing Your Workforce for a Return to the Office

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We’ve required a lot out of employees over the last few months. Millions of people worldwide overhauled their practices to work remotely, with 88% of office staff working from home during the pandemic. Although many are keen to have the flexibility to work from home in the future, just 16% want to say goodbye to the office forever.

Now that restrictions are easing in many countries, companies may be considering a return to the office. But after so many months working remotely, how do you shift your business back to the office while keeping employees safe and informed? And what can we learn from our remote working experience that could be integrated into future company culture?

1. Reassess Your Business Strategy

Take a closer look at what immediate challenges your company may face with new restrictions, like office size. You might need to make some changes in the workspace to allow for workstations to be farther apart.

If this is not possible, consider introducing a schedule for your employees to work on. Ensure you have sanitization and a deep clean of the office scheduled before asking people to return.

Aside from challenges, look at the opportunities that have arisen from recent events. With so many people working remotely, now might be the time to introduce more flexible working or downsize your office space altogether.

2. Set Up Processes to Respond Rapidly

The coming months and years will be volatile. Develop processes to constantly monitor for external changes, and prepare plans to pivot rapidly as the situation changes. Think about creating a rapid response team to monitor any changes in government guidance and look at countries that are slightly ahead in the timeline. What have they done successfully?

Given the rapid development of technology to monitor the spread of the virus, you might want to consider contact tracing or other technology to protect your workforce but always with safeguarding employees’ personal data in mind.

3. Establish Clear Lines of Communication

Over the past few months, we have all introduced new communication tools into our routine. Transparency will be key to alleviate any concerns and prepare your workforce to return.

Keep in mind that employees who have adjusted to remote working and those coming back from furlough will need time to readjust to an office environment, including a shift in mind-set and an adjustment in work habits.

Use the communication tools at your disposal to both gather feedback from your employees and communicate to them about everything at their disposal during the transition. This will allow you to stay on top of the challenges they encounter in this period.

4. Build an Agile Workforce

Having a workforce that can rapidly respond to market changes will be a competitive advantage. Consider your contingent talent, such as contractors, freelancers, and alumni, and how they can add value to your business. They can also help take some of the stress and pressure away from your employees by shouldering the workload while they readjust to the office routine.

Another thing to consider is how to improve cross-departmental collaboration, knowledge sharing, and upskilling. Returning to the office is a good time for people to share their tips and advice. Some might have found simple ways of dealing with the return to the office, while others might share their experience of remote working and the new skills they have picked up during that time.

5. Reflect on Working Practices

Being away from the office has allowed employers to reassess some of the working practices they used to have. Before returning to the office, decide which ones are well-suited to your organization and desired by your workers. Can you replace a meeting with a video call? Maybe your employees prefer working remotely or would like to have the flexibility of remote and on-site work.

Now is the perfect time to cement the remote working practices your workforce has spent the last few months finessing. Make sure that experience does not go to waste….

Source: HR Daily Advisor

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