Remote work has facilitated a more flexible approach to working, offering employees increased control over their ideal work scenario: they could move to other states, travel, save money on their daily commute, and skip the office attire. After spending so much time in-person, the world quickly adapted to working differently -- from home, from anywhere, often with a more flexible schedule, and additional home and family responsibilities. But while some companies have fully embraced remote working, research indicates it might not be the best option for everyone. Some believe the great resignation is being caused by the pressure people put on themselves working from home. Studies suggest employees actually work longer hours, so naturally, burnout is high.
Remote working also makes it more challenging for junior roles to move up, as they are not working alongside managers or leadership who can notice their efforts or mentor them in real-time. Additionally, some businesses have also mentioned that this style of work has changed the culture previously enjoyed in an office environment. A Top VC from Silicon Valley, Keith Robios, is actively hiring employees to move to Miami to work from their office for OpenStore, stating that “[t]he office environment that people live in and work in, dictates your culture and how people make decisions.”
For many organizations, being in-person is key to maintaining their strong culture. If this sounds like your team, or if you're considering the shift to hybrid or fully in-person work, read on for our tips for re-integrating your team!
Prepare Your Team
Give Ample Notice
Abrupt changes are unsettling and can lead to feelings of uncertainty and frustration, especially when those changes involve jobs that have been successfully conducted from the comfort of an employee’s home for some time. Keep in mind that your team has a life outside of work, and be sure to give plenty of time for them to prepare for the change. Ask where you can be flexible, and/or grant accommodations for travel, trips, working parents and those taking care of family members, etc.
💡 Is your team burned out? Learn how to spot the signs here
Offer Hybrid Options
The most challenging part of preparing everyone for this change. No one likes change, especially when they had two years working from home. So this change might be a shock or you may even get some push back on this. Some companies have started with hybrids as a way to ease employees back into the office.
Flexibility For Parents
The pandemic allowed some parents to be able to take care of their little ones while working from home. So announcing coming back to the office can really change up their schedule. Be sure to give parents flexibility on when they can start to come back in especially if they need to arrange childcare. Even better perk if your company offers to cover some childcare costs to help.
Clarity is Key
Nothing is worse than making decisions about the company that aren't communicated in a transparent manner. Knowing the why is a critical component of understanding and adaptation, and besides, it's good business! Employees don't care whether you're committed to a 5-year office lease when their working and homes lives have been upended by the pandemic and the adaptation to remote working. Determining your why, formulating a clear purpose for the return and establishing goals for the future are all components of a successful back-to-work strategy. Consider questions like: Will in-office work increase collaboration? Enhance culture? Whatever the reason, be sure it’s measurable and it’s something that everyone will notice an impact towards this change.
If you’re going to force people back into the office, ensuring people are connecting and building strong relationships should be front and center. Teams that work well together are more willing to solve problems quicker. It’s no wonder the fastest growing companies are always the ones with the best culture. Take advantage of people who are together to create special moments and experiences.
Offer Welcome Back Swag Packs
Nothing says welcome back like some sweet, branded swag! Especially if you offer some nice branded swag items they can use at home and in the office. This also helps create a sense of unity when everyone gets some brand merch for them to wear.
💡Welcome your team back to the office with these top-rated swag ideas
If you’ve settled on a hybrid model, be sure to earmark certain days when all team members are expected to be in the office. This reduces uncertainty around when to report in-person, and will ensure that teams are meeting in-person when it counts. Stumped about when to meet in the office, and when to keep things virtual? Look to team-building events that foster a sense of community, like opting for an all-hands meeting in the office, rather thabn online, or conversely, keeping WFH days virtual-meeting free to allow for deep focus.
Relax That Dress Code
If your office wasn’t flexible about this before, leverage this easy win to help your team ease back into the office in comfort. Keep in mind after working from home for a while, hard pants and formal attire become a thing of the past. If your team isn’t routinely client-facing, consider relaxing your attire policy, incorporating casual-dress days, or simply allowing folks to dress in ways that help them work their best.
Offer Food & Catering
Food is a quick and convenient win, and while it’s often derided as an engagement “gimme”, snacks, free lunch or regular catering are simple ways to invest in your team’s well-being, encourage community and work-life balance (breaks are important!) and make planning their day a little easier. Companies like OfficeLuv offer helpful tools to streamline arrangements of supplies and food for in-office events.
Change is hard, and big changes, like the shift from remote working to in-office expectations, require special consideration, careful planning, and attention to the small details. Understanding how you can support your team's transition and ease their entry back into the office will result in big engagement and culture wins for your team.
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