COVID forced many businesses to transition their workforce from the office to a remote setting. Employees and employers alike had to adjust to and overcome the challenges of working virtually. With more of the country receiving the vaccine, company leadership needs to consider the difficulties of shifting their employees back to a physical office.
Most employees adapted quickly to working from home and came to embrace the benefits. They have more flexible hours, no commute, and can wear whatever they please. Working from home also gives employees peace of mind knowing they’re reducing their exposure to germs and risk of infection.
The following are several tips to help employees switch back to a traditional working environment:
- Plan for a staged re-entry. COVID didn’t give employees much time to adjust to remote work. Many had to assemble a workspace and purchase office equipment without notice. Others had to figure out how to work from home with the distraction of other working adults, kids attending virtual school, and so on. Employers have the luxury of time to plan a staged return to work to avoid an abrupt transition.
- Offer mental health support. Government studies show that 40% of adults struggle with mental health issues due to COVID. Isolation, loneliness, and anxiety cause significant stress and have a negative effect on employees’ health. Offering mental health support can give employees resources to cope with their stressors. Offering flexible schedules can reduce anxiety for employees who have children attending virtual school or have high-risk individuals living with them.
- Explain the benefits of returning to the office. Many businesses discovered their employees were just as productive working from home as they were when working in the office. Employees know this too and may hedge at returning to the office if they don’t see the point. However, isolation stymies creativity that flourishes when employees collaborate. If a company doesn’t differentiate from the competition or produce new ideas, it’ll lose its relevancy. Employees may find themselves out of a job as a result.
- Be transparent about safety protocols. It’s not enough for businesses to reassure their employees that their health and safety are top priorities. Employees need to know what steps their companies are taking for them to feel safe to return. For example, companies can share their details for advanced cleaning protocols, maintaining virtual meetings, and other strategies to limit exposure.
- Allow for flexibility. If employers force their employees back into the office too quickly, they’re likely to have a significant attendance problem. The fallout of COVID is still complicating employees’ lives, and they need the flexibility to manage childcare, care for elderly or sick family members, etc. Consider allowing employees to work from home a few days per week to help them balance their work and home life responsibilities as they reacclimate to a traditional office environment.
COVID forced many companies to find creative solutions to remain in business. A successful return to the workplace hinges on understanding employees’ needs and embracing flexibility during the transition. However, employers still need to track attendance and address any troubling trends. Contact the experts at Actec to learn how our absence tracking mobile app can help your business as you transition back into the office.