How to Navigate the Back to Office Transition

For those of you worried about the back to office transition, read on for helpful tips.

The back to office transition can be challenging for employees who have been working remotely or those who are hesitant about coming back. There isn’t necessarily a playbook on how to bring employees back to work after COVID, but employers should consider how the landscape of their businesses have changed over the year and what that means for returning employees.

Welcoming your team back comes with its own challenges that involve a lot of communication, reassurance, and flexibility. A recent survey found that 2 out of 3 Americans were not comfortable with returning to work. Knowing that safety is a concern for your employees and taking every precaution you can as an organization will make a difference.

The back to workplace transition is difficult on both employers and employees alike. Employers need to have open dialogue with returning staff about expectations, while also being flexible when it comes to things like hours that can be worked remotely from one day per week up to full-time remote positions if needed. For most people going back means more than just showing up at an office every morning; they come back with hesitations and feelings that are best discussed openly in order for everyone involved know what’s expected moving forward.

people working in the office

Here are some return to office guidelines for welcoming your team back:

  1. Communicate with your team, and be flexible when possible in the return to office transition. It may take time before things feel back to “normal.” Give employees the opportunity to come back at their own pace while still being mindful of how much work needs to get done. Let them know that there is always a place for them.
  2. Understand that the business landscape has changed. Your employees may need to have more flexibility in their schedules or work from home for a while as they get back into the routine of things.
  3. Consider how location and remote working has impacted your team members lives post COVID, and be accommodating if necessary. If you still require at least one day in office, think about how you can integrate your remote team into office discussions on a hybrid level to make them feel connected.
  4. Share your team’s work with the world and remind people that they are not alone in this journey.
  5. Provide COVID resources, discounts on mental health services, and other assistance for those who need it. Helping employees get through this transition can help you too!

Employees should be reassured that there is always room for them if they want or need to come back into the office at their own pace while still being mindful of how much work needs to get done. Letting them know that there is always a place for them will go a long way in helping ease some anxiety around potentially getting laid off because of their choice to work from home.

woman placing sticky notes on wall

Coping with employee’s return to office anxiety…

Going back to the office after working from home invites a lot of anxiety around whether it’s safe or not. Transitioning back to work after COVID is not something that is universal to every employer, and each business should adapt appropriately. Here are a few tips you can offer your employees so that they can return back to the office with less anxiety:

  1. Plan ahead and develop an action plan for how you’ll get through your first day of returning to the office from working remotely
  2. Only return after COVID if it’s absolutely necessary but don’t over extend yourself in doing too much, remember there is always time later on down the road!
  3. Make sure you have a return to office after COVID plan

One of the benefits of returning to the office after COVID is that there is more face-to-face time between employees, which is important considering all the new hires that happened over the year. However, employees going back to the office may have hesitations after COVID. They might feel like they’re not needed anymore or that their job is at risk. There’s also a possibility of coworkers still coming in late from time-to-time and employees feeling overwhelmed with what needs to be done when returning to work after covid.

Snack and work

Here are some tips for how you can support employees in their return to the office:

  1. Communicate your expectations right away once employees come back
  2. Be transparent about any changes since employees left
  3. Give employees an opportunity to offer feedback on what it will take for them personally (if anyone) to successfully return before providing guidance on how best get there together.
  4. Show some hospitality to your returning employees by establishing an office snack program with SnackMagic, featuring Grab & Go Trays, customizable snack and swag goodie bags, and bulk snacks (polling coming soon!)
  5. Give your remote employees the same hospitable treatment by treating them to Build-Their-Own snack boxes
  6. Show a bit of team spirit to your hybrid team with some customizable swag

We don’t know what the next year will bring, but planning ahead with ample room for flexibility will lead to long-term success for any employer navigating these strange and uncertain times.


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