Working from home has looked very different these past couple of months. Your work area has also become a classroom, the typical work attire is sweatpants and a ball cap, and your kids treats you like a human jungle gym, climbing over you as you are working on reports for your boss.
But, through the chaos of working at home, taking care of children, and making sure dinner isn’t pepperoni pizza once again, it’s also been a safe space for us. As stay-at-home restrictions are lifted, more of the workforce is heading back to the office, leaving their shelter from the “storm.”
As a leader, it’s your responsibility to ensure safety and health, above anything else, as your employees return to work. Compassion and patience are also required!
Here are 5 ways to help staff make that difficult transition from working from home to the office a little easier.
Implement Hygiene Protocols
Every business should have hygiene protocols in place as workers step into the office (a massive supply of hand sanitizer should be a given!). This includes everything from social distancing in break rooms, cleaning restrooms often, and making sure desks are at least six feet apart. Be ready to install sneeze guards and other safety measures around the floorplan of your office.
Many businesses are also limiting the number of employees that can step foot in the building, only requiring a small percentage of staff to return to the office and slowly phase in the rest of the employees. This not only helps contain the spread of the virus, but will help staff feel comfortable and at ease as they make the commute into work.
As mentioned above, sweatpants, yoga pants, and… maybe no pants… have become the go-to work attire lately. A fun gesture to offer returning employees is the option to wear casual attire in the office during the first couple of weeks everyone is back (pants are required, though!).
This pandemic has turned everyone’s world upside down. People have dealt with loss, family members losing jobs, and financial burdens as COVID-19 has spread across the world. That’s why it’s important to consider your employees’ emotions as they return.
Check-in with employees every other day. Ask them questions (not too intrusive) about their personal lives to show you have an interest in them beyond work assignments. By showing empathy towards your team, not only will you earn respect from them, but you’ll be creating an emotionally safe space for them as well.
Build Team Morale
Maybe not the best time to gather everyone into the conference room to play “Two Truths and a Lie” but there are other options out there that can build up team morale. Have everyone take the Myers-Briggs personality test and encourage them to share their results, send out a video quiz or virtual scavenger hunt. There are many resources out there that can help you think of new, creative ways to captivate your team and boost motivation.
Offer Flex Hours
Working from home has allowed many of us to toss out the “9 to 5” and schedule our own hours. We have adapted to this new routine, which will make it difficult to revert to the way things were. Offering flex hours for the first couple of weeks would help employees get back into the swing of it – and help you hit a home run as a leader!
Employees will be looking to you for guidance and support. At the end of the day, if you show your team that you care about their wellbeing, they will applaud your efforts.