How to Encourage Employees to Return to the Office

Return to the OfficeThanks to the COVID-19 pandemic that caused most businesses to adopt remote working, most employees are reluctant to come back to the office. Some of the reasons for the reluctance include the flexibility and convenience of working from home and safety concerns. Therefore, if you plan on reopening your offices, you need to find a balance between the company’s needs and those of your workers to ensure a smooth transition. Here are a few tips that you can use to encourage employees to return to the office.

1. Employee Safety

One of the biggest challenges hindering employees to return to office is safety and health concerns. As the HR or management, you need to assure your staff that they can work from the office without putting their health at risk. To do this, put in place safety measures and policies to safeguard employee physical and mental health.

Some of the best practices to implement at the office include providing protective equipment like masks, thorough workplace sanitization, social distancing, and testing. As the management, ensure you communicate to your staff about how you intend to make the workplace safe. Doing so inspires trust and confidence from employees and makes coming back to the office less scary.

2. Have a Flexible Back-to-Office Strategy

Employees will be more receptive to the idea of coming back to the office when they are under no pressure to report to work. Therefore, come up with flexible guidelines on how your staff can get back to the office. You can decide to allow employees to work from the office for a few days of the week and then work remotely for the remaining days.

The best way to manage office re-entry is to involve the staff when coming up with the ground rules for getting back to work. Doing so not only makes them feel included and valued, but it also makes the whole exercise less pushy. By gradually reintroducing your staff back to the office, you ease employee anxiety and make it easy for them to acclimatize to the new working environment.

3. Organize Training to Upskill Employees

Most employees value career development and will be more excited coming back to work knowing they have opportunities to upskill and boost their financial security. As such, employee training programs at the workplace is an excellent incentive to encourage employees to get back to the office.  Besides fostering personal and professional development through upskilling, employee training programs allow your staff to find mentors.

While job-related upskilling courses such as coding classes for your IT team are great motivators, consider soft skills such as problem-solving and team building. It is advisable to make the training programs long-term to promote employee motivation and upward mobility.

4. Adapt Your Office Space to Match Employee Needs

One of the keys to achieving a successful employee return to the office is understanding that their needs may have changed when they were away. Some employees may be motivated to come to the office by the possibility of socializing, while others require a quiet working environment without the distractions of working from home. As such, you should adapt your workspaces to accommodate the different needs of your team and offer personalized experiences at work.

Consult your employees before opening up your offices on what they need so you can prepare adequately to meet their expectations. You can do this by sending out surveys and questionnaires to help you consider everyone when reimagining your office spaces. Your employees will be eager to get back to the office once they know their individual needs are well taken care of, and they can feel at home working from the office workspaces.

5. Promote Personal Connections among Employees

Reports show that 73% of employees working from home miss socializing with their colleagues. To encourage your staff to get back to working from the office, you need to capitalize on the need for human connection. You can do this by creating working spaces that encourage personal interactions and introducing activities requiring your staff to come together.

Since the office setup may limit the necessary connection your employees need, come up with creative and fun activities outside work hours. These include community service, going for picnics, scheduling alfresco lunches once in a while, and organizing games. By incorporating fun activities in your return-to-the-office strategy, you get to leverage the fear of missing out (FOMO) on those who are reluctant to come back to the office.

The Bottom Line

How you handle your company’s transition from remote to office working can make or break your employees’ morale, affecting your business productivity in the long run. While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, the above tips can help encourage your employees to get back to the office. By listening to your employee’s needs and striving to provide them with the ideal working environment, you can achieve a successful transition back to the office.

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