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It’s not uncommon for people to dread the return to work after working remotely for the better part of a year or more. But it doesn’t have to be a negative thing. And business leaders who are preparing to welcome their teams back need to know there are considerations that can make the return to the office a positive experience.

On the other hand, there are also some mistakes businesses can make when transitioning staff back into the office that will lead to more stress and less productivity. Today, we’ll highlight three ways to avoid those common mistakes and offer a few suggestions to help you welcome your employees back in the most welcoming and positive way possible.

1. Not Allowing Enough Adjustment Time

One of the most significant mistakes that company leaders make when bringing employees back to the office is assuming teams will be ready to shift back to pre-pandemic norms immediately. Most people need time to adjust. And allowing your staff a little flexibility in the transition can help ensure a smooth one.

Give Your Teams Enough Transition Time

Over the past several months, your employees may have been reporting to work in their pajamas. They didn’t have commuting and morning traffic to contend with, nor did they have to keep up with their dry cleaning. As teams roll back into your office, be mindful of the changes they’ll be facing. Give them enough space to get back into the groove of adhering to a dress code and morning traffic. And it might even be a realistic idea to forgive a few late days.

Don’t Expect Everyone to Be Enthusiastic

Some of your employees might be eager to get back in the office. But not everyone will be enthusiastic about giving up those home office spaces. It’s important as you make the transition back to normal operations that you recognize this. It may just require a little patience and time to get everyone back to their former, chipper selves.

Avoid Overwhelming Teams Upon Their Return

As a company leader, you might be pressed to see your teams return so productivity can return to robust levels. But be mindful of your returning staff’s ability to take on a full load. Don’t overwhelm employees right away. Instead, allow for a more gradual return to normal, without introducing loads of new tasks and responsibilities just yet. It won’t necessarily take long to get back to record-breaking sales again, for example. But burning out your teams before they’re ready will only prolong those desired productivity levels.

2. Losing Sight of Company Goals & Objectives/span>

After being out of the office environment for so long, your employees might be a little rusty about office-related etiquette, tasks, procedures, and company objectives. To avoid issues, consider implementing a series of gentle reminders. Set the tone of your work environment to be one everyone feels comfortable returning.

Office Basics

Your employees might not have forgotten how to find their office spaces, but there could be a few office basics that could use refreshing. Consider welcoming your teams back in a way that almost mirrors a new hire onboarding process. Re-introduce them to office basics about common areas, workspaces, and general etiquette. You likely won’t need to commit too much time doing these re-introductions, but you can set the pace for everyone with gentle reminders.

Company Mission & Changes

Since the onset of the pandemic conditions last year, most companies have had to change or amend how they conduct business. Your company may have similar changes, whether to your overall mission or to your core deliverables. It’s essential that you discuss any shifts in your business with employees coming back to the office. And make sure everyone among your ranks has access to the support and resources they need to execute any new or amended initiatives effectively.

Procedures & Processes

While your teams found new ways to be productive in the remote working environment, they might have also found more efficient processes and procedures. Make adjustments to keep those efficiencies when everyone comes back to the office. There are some “old ways” that need to stay in the past, especially if your staff innovated during their remote working schedules.

3. Overlooking Employee Needs

Not every employee will have the same outlook about coming back to work. It’s imperative that as companies welcome teams back to the office, HR managers are prepared to engage individually to discuss needs. Implementing over-arching company efforts might not be enough to ensure everyone is comfortable back in the workplace.

Staff Acknowledgements

Take the time to acknowledge your outstanding players and reward loyal employees. Without them, your company ship won’t sail. You can use these recognition efforts to springboard into individual-level conversations about employee-level concerns. And flexibility is the key in these first few months returning to the office environment. Don’t be afraid to transition back with options for remote working days of the week or less strict operational rules.

New Performance Incentives

Take time to review your past and present performance expectations. Make any necessary adjustments and spend time with each team member to revisit performance metrics. You can then revise incentives accordingly and know that your post-pandemic office is on the best path to productivity success. It will also present an opportunity to outline any new personal goals your employees might have and create a better approach for retention.

Health & Wellness Priorities

There continue to be fierce debates on both sides of the pandemic mitigation best practices right now. It’s best to stay out of those politically charged conversations and instead look for the best ways to promote healthy and safe work environments. Lay out precise plans for COVID-19 symptom management and quarantine requirements. Be prepared to maintain a disinfected office and consider social distancing and masks when applicable.

If your employees are heading back into the office soon, don’t make some of these common mistakes. And should your company be ready to explore ICHRA options, or your teams need help browsing the ACA Marketplace for affordable health insurance, let W3LL help!


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