While some businesses are gradually bringing their team back into their buildings, many are still working from a hybrid office.No matter your circumstances now is the time to consider your options and prepare for how that transition will look. Being able to plan ahead with your Executive and set expectations ahead of time will allow for a smoother move for everyone involved. We’ve outlined a few key aspects to keep in mind while planning for the eventual return to the workplace.
- 1. Returning is Hard
For multiple reasons, there will be those who are still not comfortable for health reasons to make the move. For some, work/life balance has never been better. As we have become more accustomed to working remotely, enjoying our home office, our Starbucks coffee, or perhaps you have spent a good amount of time and money creating that separate workspace in the home. Whatever your reason, the change back to the physical workplace can be daunting.
For many professional parents, they have been required to shift their entire routine to accommodate the working from home environment. This could mean that they’ve been schooling from home, worked out a balance with their partner, canceled services, etc. For a professional parent, being asked to return to the office could be an even more daunting task than a relief. It’s important to keep in mind what people have modified and sacrificed in their daily routines to make working from home work in the first place.
- 2. Respect Individual Transition Needs
If it is necessary for all employees to return to the office, discuss with your Executive how you can make the transition as easy as possible and determine what challenges your team may face and how to give them the resources they need.
This could mean helping to find childcare, allowing for extra time to transition or coordinating temporary travel accommodations. With the tremendous amount of job loss since the beginning of 2020, many households are making up for a partner who is still out of work. For some, the lack of income has resulted in sacrifices such as giving up a vehicle or a babysitter. Make time to speak with individual team members candidly about what would make it easier for them to start coming into the office.
- 3. Emphasize Your Modified Company Values
Through all these changes, it is important to show that you are changing with the times in all the necessary ways, but your focus is on safety and compassion towards your team. If you haven’t already, modify your values statement to reflect your acknowledgement of compassion towards your workforce. Plan to announce and distribute this modified statement to demonstrate your commitment as a business to making changes that are in the best interest of the people who make the business run.
- 4. Allow for WFH Split
Whether it is temporary or a permanent implementation, create a process for partially working from home for those roles that can allow for independent work. Make sure they have proper support and resources and work out a schedule that allows for staggered “In house” days. Coordinate with all those who are working the split so that teams that need to communicate or meet in person can be in the office on the same days.
- 5. Mental Health Planning
No matter how well you plan the transition back to work, there will be difficulty. Even with the vaccine, people are still wary of being around too many people. The stress of the past year, coupled with the challenges they may be facing at home or from leaving home to work in the office can make it harder for people to get back into the zone. Plan to have resources and support for those who may need it by making therapists available, being understanding if someone needs a personal day, planning morale boosting activities or initiatives and the like. Being able to empathize with the challenges that your team will inevitably face will give them more comfort and peace about returning to work.
At the end of the day, we’re all in this together, experiencing this changing world at the same time. The more we can anticipate, plan and show compassion, the easier it will make the process of moving ourselves forward towards success and happiness!