6 “Hacks” for a Smooth Return to Office

/ Christine Andrukonis

Organizations are now facing the challenge of how to return employees to the office swiftly, safely and responsibly. While your return-to-office (RTO) strategy should be tailored to your company’s unique needs, here are 6 smart “hacks” that can help you build the foundation for a smooth return to office.

  1. Take the opportunity to reset how you work. While the past year left many of us yearning for a return to “status quo,” don’t go back to the way things worked inside your company pre-pandemic. Instead find ways to reshape your work processes to allow for greater flexibility and better support virtual working among your workforce.
  2. Do not call it a “return to work”: Employees everywhere have been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic, while balancing health, education, family and social justice issues. If you imply that they have not been working, you will disengage them.
  3. Remember that one size will not fit all: Although you will need to create a handful of universal policies to ensure a safe return to an office environment, you must also build in opportunities to allow flexibility and choice for both leaders and team members. Giving employees a voice on what their revamped workplace looks and feels like will help you design a workplace that best meets their needs.
  4. Retrain your managers to communicate, coach and develop: Now’s the ideal time to boost your managers’ communication and coaching skills, so they are better equipped to connect with employees, support their growth, and develop them for long-term career success.
  5. Ask employees how they are doing and what they need along the way: Leading with empathy and compassion is more important than ever as businesses bring employees back to the office. Give team members the opportunity to share how they are doing and what they need. Use their feedback to adjust and make improvements along the way. Assess sentiment by demographic groups to ensure equity issues are not being amplified.
  6. Have a plan for how you’ll retain top talent: The labor market is heating up, and there will be organizations — some of them your direct competitors — offering employees maximum flexibility and fully virtual work environments. Have a strategy for how you’ll retain and engage top talent, so you don’t lose them.

As you formulate your plans for getting employees back in the office, keep in mind that the RTO process, as challenging as it may be, presents a tremendous opportunity to enhance and elevate your business.

And don’t forget — during and after you’ve transitioned employees back to the office, be sure to review successes and lessons learned so you can continue to optimize the in-office work experience for them.

Categories: Culture Change