Tips for a Smooth Return to the Office Post-Lockdown

“As lockdown restrictions begin to ease and the world starts to return to some level of ‘normality’ following the devastation of the Coronavirus pandemic, many of us are now wondering – “what’s next?”
It’s easy to understand why – we’ve been working from home for so long now, Zoom calls and online webinars have become the norm, but what happens when offices begin to open again? Do you feel ready to be returning to work? If not, don’t worry. We have some tips to ensure that when your employees return to work from home, it’s all plain sailing ahead.

Talk honestly with your employees, and understand any reservations people may have. Life has been on pause for a year now and for some people find the idea of another drastic change to be rather daunting. It’s important to understand how everyone is different, and some people think going back to sitting at a desk away from home surrounded by a group of people is something that can be a little unnerving. By highlighting individual people’s feelings and concerns, you’ll be able to put in a plan of action to cater for everyone’s needs moving forward.

Encourage Flexible Working
After working from home for so long it would be a massive ask to demand staff and employees to snap back into old habits and routine at the drop of a hat. Instead, ease them in. A good approach would be to have employees start with one or two days in the office each week and build up to where they feel comfortable and most productive. For instance, some companies and employees now prefer the advantages of working remotely, so it’s important to do what is best for your team and carry out the proper tasks to find the ways they will be most productive and effective at work.

If you decide that returning to the office is best for you then you may want to consider ways to make the very most out of your daily commute, so you don’t feel as though you’re wasting it. Or perhaps you need a distraction from the commute.

Put a Covid Plan in Action
With the vaccine distribution in full swing it’s important to remember that the virus is being contained and handled better, but has not yet been eradicated. This means that there is still the possibility of positive tests turning up within the workplace, therefore it is pivotal to have a plan of action for any covid related cases where you request any employees to immediately report if they are feeling ill or have any symptoms before coming into work. Then make everyone aware of this; this way you will be able to protect the team, limit any risk and help reduce any further chance of infection.

Offer Support
The pandemic has had an enormous impact on people in all kinds of different ways, but especially psychologically. A lot of people have spent months worrying about what’s happening, when it’ll end, if their job is safe, how they’ll cover the bills, or just generally struggling with the social isolation that lockdown has brought upon us all. Therefore, it’s essential to consider different ways to support employees when they begin to start coming back into the office or face-to-face meetings begin to resume. It is important to consider the long-lasting effect of this pandemic and understand it will take some people longer to recover than others, therefore an employee support programme may be a necessary introduction, or encouraging small meet-ups at work to begin building social relationships again.

Overall, the last 12 months have been truly life-altering and it’s important to remember that we’re all human, with human emotions. Try not to pressure people into situations too soon, and allow them to feel comfortable and make the decision that they feel will best suit them.

If, for the time being, you’re remaining a remote worter then perhaps this guide to staying connected to other employees may be useful to you! “