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The Simple Guide to Returning to Work post-COVID-19

After the COVID-19 pandemic, snap lockdowns and long periods of isolation; according to a recent survey of city workers, many employees felt anxious to return to the office full-time. Creating a plan for leaders and a guide for employees to adjust to in-person office working again is vital to ease these anxieties. 

Last year over three-quarters of Melbourne city workers were apprehensive about returning to their workplace full-time. This means that organisations need to make the commute worthwhile. Over the past few decades, offices within CBDs of major Australian cities have been central to how companies see themselves – so it can be difficult to realign the companies for remote and hybrid workers. 

The norm will be more flexible and mobile working practices across organisations – tailoring them to the demand of hybrid work. If there is physical office space – it needs to be stimulating and inspiring for workers. But to create this space, there needs to be meaningful action taken to provide it for employees. 

Leaders need to plan return-to-work communications for an easy transition, keep employee well-being front of mind and adapt to new ways of working.

Return-to-work Comms

It can be tricky for both the employer and employees – so to make the transition seamless; there needs to be open communication. Creating clear company-wide communications is one way to do this. 

Give plenty of warning before any in-office participation is required. You can provide a return to work checklist via email for all staff to know what they need to prepare. This should include:

  • An official date
  • What health and safety measures you’ve implemented
  • What you expect from them
  • An emphasis on well-being and their ability to be flexible
  • One person who is designated to be the point of contact for concerns or questions

Another great option would be a return-to-work form to learn what your employees are feeling about switching from remote to back in the office or to a hybrid model. This should cover:

  • Do you feel comfortable coming back to the office?
  • How many days a week would you like to come in?
  • Is there anything you need in the office for us to provide?
  • How can we make this transition easier?
  • Would you like to return to the office when we reopen?
  • Do you know who to go to with questions and concerns?

This way, you get to address any concerns they may have – and fulfil their needs. 

Hybrid & Remote Working

For employees who don’t feel comfortable coming back to the office full-time or all, it’s essential to ensure they are included in all relations. Here are some tips to combat this:

  • Ensure that these employees have all the equipment they need to set up their workspace
  • Keep them in the loop regularly
  • Offer access to co-working spaces to have that office atmosphere without the pressure of being around people they know.

It’s essential to have regular check-ins with all employees when transitioning from one work model. Regular surveys and one-on-ones can provide you with the information you need to alter and adjust the system you have in place. 

The environment we work in is constantly changing –  but it’s changing faster than ever now. So providing support to employees who may be silently struggling will take pressure off them and allow them to be at their peak performance when in the office. Adopting a flexible approach will create the easiest path for all involved. If you want to stay up-to-date on how the work landscape is changing – sign up for our newsletter here.

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