4 Ways to Help Ease Your Employees Back to the Office
If you were to think back to when COVID-19 first hit Singapore, you would also remember how quickly and suddenly things changed. It must have been disorienting and quite anxiety-inducing to have been asked to work and study in a completely different environment and style. However, over the past two years, people have come to work their way around to adjust.
With the recent update in regulations in Singapore, office workers are allowed to head back to the office after working from home for months. Essentially, we are being asked to adjust all over again. So, how can employers help ease their employees back to work in the office and prevent a dip in productivity levels?
Take Initiative to Communicate With Employees
As with every relationship, communication is key. It is important for employers to talk to their employees early on and give them as much lead time as possible to organize and make any necessary plans. Managers will have to be involved in the well-being of their team.
Even if all the nitty-gritty details have not been ironed out, give them the details, and communicate any changes in office protocols early. This in turn will reduce their anxiety give staff more lead time to make arrangements. Communicate regular updates - this will also reassure them that decisions weren't made haphazardly. Seeing that there is a competent and well-thought-out plan will greatly help in easing their transition back to office life.
Make Changes in Phases
A drastic change in the work environment might cause anxiety and impact productivity. Baby steps are a good idea, like having a phased return to the office. You could start with alternate weeks to ease your staff back into working in the office. Rather than overwhelming them with a sudden transition, this would be less overwhelming. You can also ask for feedback from them to understand what is working and what is not.
Other changes should also be made gradually, rather than abruptly. Whenever possible, give the accommodations people need to do their best work.
Reinforce the Benefits of Working in the Office
Try to change your staff's anxieties or dread for returning to the office into excitement. Allow them to appreciate the benefit of having an office space - those moments when you strike up a conversation with someone at the coffee machine or a spontaneous interaction with someone that yields a new idea. These are valuable moments that are lost with the distance created by remote working. Being in the office together as a team builds camaraderie in the long run and aids ideation and discussion. Meeting your colleagues in person also helps to foster better relationships with them.
Organise Team Events
Employees are more inclined to be happy to return to the office if they are friends with their colleagues. Team events can help to foster relationships outside of work discussions and business meetings. By putting people in a fun and relaxing environment outside the workplace, you will encourage everyone to relax, be themselves and open up to others. It will also help employees from different teams to interact without having the pressure of working on a project together.
These events work as the catalyst for better communication and collaboration with one another, which in turn reduces friction and resistance, and increases productivity.
There is no saying how long our return to the office is since the pandemic is still an ongoing situation in Singapore. But employers can certainly gain from helping employees manage their difficulties during this transition. Listen to your employees, be compassionate about the changes, and be bold about making changes.