The Covid-19 pandemic has forced companies to make changes in the way they approach working from home, flexible hours and other key work processes.
During this time, many workers came to embrace the flexibility of remote work, and leaders became adept at managing, meeting with and overseeing their teams from a distance.
Now as vaccination rates rise and the pandemic begins to recede, companies are beginning to transition their teams back to the office. Here are some HR lessons for the return to the office.
HR Must Be Highly Visible and Transparent – Employers need to be transparent about the measures they have taken to help employees feel safe and comfortable with returning. Employers also need to give their employees with young or school-age children enough time to arrange daycare—jumping back in will not be that easy given how long many employees have been remote. Open communication is always most important.
Safety First – Your first priority should be to make sure your staff can return to work safely. Re-imagining the workplace to ensure social distancing, factoring in the need for collaborative space and re-configuring high-traffic areas are crucial considerations.
Pay Attention to Your Staff’s Mental Wellbeing – As your staff return to work, it is important to make sure you are looking out for their mental wellbeing, as well as their physical health. Remind employees that the transition to remote work happened quickly and as a team, they survived. Communication about expectations is key, and potential timelines will help people transition and adjust.
Be Flexible – When planning a return to the office, employers must be sensitive to employees’ needs. A year ago, employees were expected to work from home and stay productive so companies could remain profitable. Now, some employees may not be comfortable transitioning back to the office. Employers should consider offering a hybrid work model, combining remote and office work to ensure employees feel at ease.
Rethink Your Travel, Conferences and Meetings – As employees transition back to the office, carefully evaluate what’s really necessary for meetings, corporate events, and travel. Does the issue need a meeting at all, or could it be settled with a quick conference call or email? Can you continue to use remote meeting technology and avoid unnecessary travel?
During this global pandemic, your team of employees stepped up and supported your business. It’s time to return the favor. Empathy, patience, gratitude, and flexibility are the best way forward.
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