Bringing Employees Back to the Office
By: Kassi Burke
It’s been over a year since most companies went remote due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In spring 2020 there was so much we didn’t know about the virus and at first, it seemed like a nice break from the early morning commutes, bagged lunches, and small talk with colleagues. A couple of months in and the ‘new normal’ became old and every day felt like Groundhog Day. Fast forward a year and while many employees are eager to get back to the office, others have found a silver lining in the pandemic. Working parents have had more time than ever to spend with their families and people have enjoyed more flexibility than ever before. With COVID-19 restrictions lifting in most states since the roll-out of the vaccine, many employers are looking for ways to encourage employees to return to the office.
Here at Visibility, we have been back in the office since July 2020. While this might seem crazy to many that have been home for over a year, we have been able to keep our office open safely. During that time our employees have been able to enjoy the comfort of having a daily routine and seeing co-workers face-to-face even if it is from 6 feet away. We wanted to share our tips for safely encouraging your employees to return back to the office.
One of the biggest perks of working from home is the ability to work on your own schedule. Need to pick up the kids from school? Take the 15-minute break and get back online when you return home. No more strict 9-5 schedule. Employees can get their tasks done on their own time. To encourage your employees to return to the office, be flexible with their schedules. If they are getting their work done in a timely manner, it shouldn’t affect business.
Another benefit of working from home is the ‘work from anywhere' lifestyle many have enjoyed. Work-cations, where you travel to a new destination and work remotely for at least part of your stay, have become popular. Now employees can visit the places they’ve always wanted to without the office standing in the way. Allowing your employees the flexibility they crave will help you attract and retain more talent.
Employees have proven that working from home is effective and that they can be just as, if not more, productive from home. We expect to see hybrid work schedules, where employees split time between the office and home, to gain popularity as life returns to so-called normal. This way employees can enjoy the many benefits of face-to-face time in the office with some flexibility to work remotely when needed.
Build a Better Office Culture
Create a happy office culture that has employees wanting to come back to the office. Team building is one of the most important strategies to running a successful business.
One of the ways we build a positive office culture at Visibility is meeting for bagels every Friday morning. It’s a simple and easy way to get together and enjoy some time in the office. We look forward to it every week! Look for ways to provide COVID-safe get-togethers outside of meetings. This could be taking a walk, grabbing lunch outside, or meeting in the kitchen for socially distanced drinks.
Luckily for us, Visibility is a dog-friendly office. Our furry friends can join us every day and hang out with us as we work. It’s a great way to put a smile on everyone’s faces. If you’re able to, offering a dog-friendly environment is an easy way to encourage employees to return. Employees will be happy to not have to leave their quarantine pups (who were used to having their humans around all the time) at home.
Prioritize Health and Safety
Even with vaccines and new therapeutics coming out, there are still concerns regarding the safety of returning to the office amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Employees are rightfully nervous about their health and safety in an office setting. To address these concerns, put COVID-safe restrictions into place at your office – social distance, require (and provide) masks, offer hand sanitizer, and disinfect the office regularly. Show your employees that you care about their health and safety, too. Encourage employees to get vaccinated by offering them flexibility in their schedules to get both doses and recuperate from side effects. Maybe it’s time to update your sick day policy and expand on what qualifies. Encourage employees to rest and take time off when necessary so that they are refreshed and ready to be productive upon their return.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed the way offices will function. Adjusting to your employees' “new normal” is the best way to encourage them to return to the office to work. Meet your employees halfway, and they will be happier, more productive, and your business will reap the benefits.