Many businesses are trying to figure out their office reopening plans after months of working remotely. Unfortunately, there isn’t a single solution that will work for everyone. So, it’s best to evaluate, review and then outline a plan that will work for your team.
Here are three pieces of general advice to help your business navigate reopening the office:
1. Communicate with your team - often
No one could’ve guessed the impact COVID-19 would have on the world. The many unknowns made it difficult to communicate for everyone including governments and parents.
The key takeaway for businesses is to communicate regularly and check in with the team often. A communication strategy will help employees who are returning to the workplace and those who will continue to work remotely. This will help all members of the team embrace a shared vision of what comes next.
It’s okay to not have all the answers. But make sure you have an open-door policy, so employees feel comfortable voicing concerns or comments. Acknowledge that reopening is a work in progress and things might change but you’ll try to do your best to keep your team updated. This will help everyone feel heard, recognized and valued.
2. Continue to offer flexible work options (if possible)
Although restrictions are easing, some employees aren’t ready to come back into the office just yet. Even with high vaccination rates, COVID-19 is still a concern. By giving your employees the option to work in the office and/or remotely, your team can make their own decision based on that works best for them. Plus, employees have proven that they’re just as productive working from home.
Having flexible work arrangements, a work-life balance and internal support are all key for building a successful team. These past two years have drastically changed the dynamics of the world. The pandemic will continue affect everything from home life to business settings. So, it’s important adapt and be progressive to promote positive change.
Employees who may need to work from home:
- Employees that have high-risk health concerns (or family members in the same household) and aren’t comfortable coming back into the office just yet
- Employees who have had difficulties finding childcare due to school lockdowns yet need to still work from home
- Employees who now have a longer commute and traveling into the office every day isn’t practical
Parents benefit from having a flexible work schedule. It makes it so much easier to pick up the kids after school, take a yoga class during lunch, or wait until the appliance repair person is finished – all while still working fulltime. Businesses need to trust that their employees will get their work done and on time. From a company point of view, you’ll save time and money on hiring and retention efforts. All in all, flexible work options are more inclusive and provide value to everyone.
3. Be understanding of everyone’s situation
We’ve all been affected by the pandemic differently. Some employees will still prefer to work from home and have flexible working hours. While others can’t wait to go back into the office to collaborate face-to-face. And some might like to have a mix of both options because they’re feeling digitally burnt out but also like the at home convenience. So, when creating the office reopening plan, it’s important to consider everyone’s needs and feelings.
Consider these scenarios:
- Employees with anxiety and may need mental health resources
- Employees who are experiencing financial stress due to a family member who lost their job and need to improve their financial well-being
- Employees who need encouragement to get back into a physical health routine to help them to feel happier and more balanced
The reality is office reopening plans will vary from business to business. To help it go smoothly, make sure you provide a clear plan. Offer workplace flexibility and be mindful of the well-being of your employees whenever possible. This will help create a positive work environment. And will result in more productive and happier employees. This year has been tough for everyone. So, treat employees with compassion and provide support. They’ll thank you for it!