The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted normal business operations overnight with an abrupt shift to remote work for office workers. As the situation has improved, many companies are ready to return to working in the office; however, some employees may still be concerned, so it’s important to handle the transition in an open and empathetic manner. Learn more about how to make your employees feel comfortable returning to the office post-COVID:
Prioritize Strict Sanitation Protocol
Ease your employees’ concerns regarding their physical health by implementing measures for keeping the workplace as clean and sanitized as possible. Ensure daily detailed cleaning routines are established and communicate those measures to your employees before they return. Also, provide hand sanitizer and cleaning products that will allow employees to sanitize shared surfaces themselves.
Adjust Physical Layouts
If at all possible, see if there are opportunities to provide more distance between workstations. Rearrange computer desk setups, move office equipment, or install partitions, so employees have more space from each other in case of concern about exposure to viruses and bacteria.
Consider Mental and Emotional Wellbeing
Just because the physical safety risks of COVID-19 may have decreased doesn’t necessarily mean that employees feel prepared to return. The pandemic has also contributed to anxiety and depression, so ensure you are empathetic to your employees’ mental and emotional wellbeing as you transition back into the office. Be ready to listen and address any issues they find worrisome, and let them know of any mental health resources that are available from your organization.
Listen to Your Employees
Don’t make assumptions about what your employees are concerned about in regards to returning to the office. To make the transition as smooth as possible, get their input. Allow them to express their concerns freely, either directly to you if they’re comfortable with it, or gather feedback in an anonymous format. Truly listen to what they have to say and use the information to make any changes to your transition plan.
Provide Ample Notice
Since many employees have been out of the office and working remotely for a significant amount of time, be cognizant of the fact that returning will be a major change. Don’t just spring it on them with a sudden announcement – provide ample notice and, if possible, allow for a gradual transition to full-time in-person work, such as specific days of the week at first or alternating weeks, to make it less overwhelming.
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