In June of 2021, 5 million Canadians reported working from home due to the pandemic deterring their daily work life. But, as an employer, you might be wondering, as things return to the new sense of “normal”, when will be the ideal time for employees to return to work?
This can be a tricky subject. But we’ve created a guide for you that will detail everything you need to know about flexible work arrangements and creating a strong return to work policy.
Buckle up because as your employees return back to work, they’ll be looking to you to lead and redefine what it means to work in the office.
Create a Safe Work Environment
One thing you should strive to do as you bring employees back to work is to create a safe workplace environment. This means putting employees’ health both physically and mentally at the top of your list.
The best way to do this is to create a space that allows employees to social distance themselves from one another while still collaborating on work tasks as needed. It’s also beneficial to place hand sanitization stations at various positions throughout the office for employees to utilize throughout the workday.
Another key way to create a safe environment is to establish a return to work policy that details several things, including:
- Protocol if you contract COVID-19
- Details about mandatory temperature checks
- Rules for social distancing while in the office
These return-to-work guidelines will ensure you can bring people back to work and have a procedure in place that covers the new challenges the business world is facing.
Flexible Work Arrangements
Flexible work arrangements are a topic that’s come up a lot recently as many people return to work. One reason for a hybrid working model is to keep the number of people that come to the office every day at a minimal level to ensure people can properly social distance.
If this sounds like something you’d like to attempt for your business, ensure everyone knows which days they’re scheduled to come into the office. If they aren’t scheduled for a specific day, it means they are to remain home and work remotely.
Split scheduling also allows you to trace more effectively if someone does contract COVID-19 and comes to work without knowing. That way, you’re able to contact the other employees with updates, without having to shut down your entire business again.
Make the Return to Work Transition Slowly
It can be a bit of a shock if you require that everyone return to work immediately. Many people have adjusted to the way things have been going as far as creating an office space within their home where they can get their work done.
Employees need time to acclimate themselves to returning to work and the changes you’re going to make to the workspace to make returning to work possible.
Did your organization bring in new employees that have never been inside the office before? If so, instead of throwing them into a new environment, you should take the same steps you would take for any other employee.
Bring them into the office and have them participate in an onboarding session. During this session, you can provide them with all the information they need to be successful and show them around the office space detailing the safety changes that have been made.
This shows you’re on board with supporting employees in any way possible.
Promote Engagement from Employees
When you’re not in the office, it can be challenging to focus on getting work done. This makes sense for most workers because it’s challenging to separate the work you need to do, from your home life.
Employees may return to work feeling burnt out and more disconnected than ever before. Find different ways to bring your employees together while maintaining your social distancing protocol.
This can be done in a variety of ways, including:
- Hosting work coffee happy hour
- Celebrating employee milestones and birthdays
- Offering different training programs that allow them to interact with other employees
These things will help employees feel refreshed and energized to help them get back into the routine of doing things in the office again. A merger 25% of employees reported being engaged in their work, and after being at home, this number has decreased.
Use this new phase as a time to boost engagement numbers.
Rethink the Design of Your Office
We briefly mentioned creating a safe environment for your employees to return to, but sometimes that goes beyond adding some sanitization stations throughout the office. If you’re taken inventory of your current office space and determined it won’t work for your new protocols, it’s time to take action.
It’s best to schedule a consultation with a professional design company that can help you dial in on the aura you’re going for. Not only will the company ensure you’re able to create an office that fits the company brand, but they’ll also do so with the safety of your employees in mind.
After all, without employees having a place to work, it can continue to affect the efficiency of your business.
How to Get Employees to Return to Work?
Making the return to work is tricky, but it can be solved. As an employer, you’ve got to be flexible with the schedules you offer to employees and bring them back slowly to allow them to adjust.
But, first, we recommend you take the time to rethink the design of your office. Aura can help you do that with a consultation. Don’t forget to check out our portfolio because our work speaks for itself.