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How HR Managers Can Coordinate a Transition Back to the Office
Posted by Insightlink on 07/02/21
Although many businesses are eager to return to life at the office, many of their employees don’t share the same enthusiasm. Whether they’re still fearful of falling ill, have become accustomed to remote work, have family obligations, or another reason, employees are thinking long and hard about transitioning back to the office.
HR managers take on a tough challenge in helping employees get settled in the office after months of working from home. You want everyone involved to be confident, comfortable, and relatively happy in the transition. But often, that isn’t the case.
Fortunately, there are various things you can do as an HR professional to coordinate a seamless transition back to the office. Here are five of them.
Equip Yourself With All You Need to Support Employees Fully
Coming back to the office after working remotely for quite some time will be stressful for many of your employees. So, you want to ensure you’re ready to guide employees through this stressful time.
First, ensure that your emotional, physical, and mental well-being is in a good place to handle this new responsibility. Next, ensure the office is ready with health and safety measures implemented. Then, design your workspace with the necessary tools, software, and systems to nurture transitioning employees. And finally, speak with company leaders, managers, and other internal teams to ensure everyone is aware of their roles in each employee’s transition.
Take it a step further and set up a risk management information system or something similar so you can promptly handle any complaint, issue, or concern an employee may have regarding their transition back into the office. Organizing all information related to transitions in one place can help you resolve complaints quickly and provide adequate resolution and support.
All in all, you must make sure you’re 100% before you can provide the level of service and support your employees need for this transition. And that support and service should start before they even step foot back in the office.
Establish a Plan Ahead of the Transition
One of the worst things you can do to your employees is demanding them back in the office without any plan for the transition. Giving them a date and time to be back in the office isn’t a transition plan. You must allow your employees ample time to prepare for their transition. Additionally, you should be a guide in that preparation.
So, spend a significant amount of time with each employee transitioning back to the office, establishing a plan for a safe, comfortable return. You should have a list of employees scheduled to return to the office. A couple of months before their return date, reach out to them and find out what they need to feel good about their transition.
Do they need childcare? Would a hybrid schedule be better? How is their mental and emotional health? How do they want their office set up? What tools do they need? What are their concerns about returning to the office? Begin a dialogue with these questions and develop a solid plan that you and the employee are comfortable with that aids a smooth transition.
In addition, when an employee has their first day back, ensure it’s a welcoming one.
Ensure a Warm Welcome on the First Day
Many of your employees will be anxious about their first day back in the office. Although they’ve been working remotely, it can still feel like the first day at a new job. So, make it a pleasant experience.
As you work with employees in the months leading up to their transition, develop a personal relationship with them. Learn things about them that you can use to make their first day back at the office warm and welcoming. For example, decorate their office with decorations in their favorite colors. Stash their favorite snacks in a designated snack drawer on their desk. Ensure their favorite tools and software are ready to use on their computers. Or provide them a gift card to their favorite food place for lunch.
Additionally, your work isn’t finished once an employee has their first day back in the office. You want to ensure you keep the conversations going beyond this first day so they remain supported in their role. And that brings us to our last tip.
Keep an Open Line of Communication
Just because your employee is happy the first day back doesn’t mean they’ll stay that way. So, to fully support their transition back to the office, your communication with them should remain consistent after they’ve settled in.
Because if we’re honest, all eyes are on businesses right now to see how they support employees in the pandemic’s aftermath. If you aren’t helping your employees adequately in their transition back to the office, they’re likely to share their dissatisfaction. This bad press can travel fast, and the next thing you know, you’re dealing with recovering from the pandemic and a bad reputation.
So, ensure each employee is encouraged to share their experience transitioning back into the office openly. A high level of transparency and communication between HR professionals and employees is integral in a seamless return.
HR professionals play an integral role in getting their workers excited about their transition back to the office. So first, equip yourself with all you need to provide employees a high level of service and support. Establish a transition plan with each returning employee and ensure a warm welcome on their first day back. And lastly, keep an open line of communication after the transition to ensure they remain happy, productive, and supported.
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AboutInsightlink Communications are experts in employee survey design, data collection and analysis. Since 2001 we've helped companies of all sizes measure and improve their employee satisfaction and engagement.
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