Back After COVID — Is my team ready?
During an unpredictable pandemic, companies across the country had to adjust their work practices. The term conference call soon applied to all conversations, important meetings were held over Zoom, and appropriate work wear included sweatpants.
The initial transition was unexpected and filled with uncertainty. However, after a year of adaptation, many have adjusted to the work-from-home corporate format.
Despite the numerous challenges, working from home has also provided some benefits! Work wear includes sweatpants! Making the inevitable transition from at-home work, and a more relaxed professional lifestyle, back to the traditional 9-5 grind, then comes with complications.
Studies and HR reports show that business professionals are divided on the issue. Is working from home actually more beneficial for companies and employees? What is the best way to go back to the office?
5 Tips For a Seamless Transition
If your organization is returning back to their normal, in-office structure, you can help prepare your team and make it a positive, seamless experience for everyone! Even if your company has already returned to full time work, it’s never too late to implement these practices and tips to your team.
1. Create a Timeline
Teams appreciate clear and consistent communication. Giving your team an idea of when exactly they will be expected to return to the office full-time can help them in various ways. Pragmatically, team members who have been able to forgo child or pet care for the past year can make the necessary arrangements to get those started again. Furthermore, employees can mentally prepare to go back to their old, and potentially more stressful, routines. Keeping your team in the loop will help them feel confident that their company is prepared, organized, and cares about their well-being!
We also recommend a gradual return. No one wants a life change sprung on them unexpectedly. That’s what happened with COVID in the first place! Instead, try transitioning by starting with a few days a week. You should also let employees know ahead of time, preferably a month in advance if possible. This way, people have time to make adjustments and such.
2. Facilitate Open Communication
Something as simple as telling employees that they are welcome to voice their concerns goes a long way. Many remote workers often feel disconnected and unheard because of the distance. It’s just the nature of the situation. Letting team members know that their thoughts and opinions are valuable to the company contributes to better overall job satisfaction and harder effort at work! Communicate about plans going forward, any new office rules, the tentative schedule for re-opening, anything else that would be relevant to your company.
We suggest sending out an anonymous survey prior to returning to the office in order to determine where people are at and read their suggestions. The more concerns you can address and relevant information you can give the team about plans going back after COVID, the more confident they will feel returning to in-person work!
3. Utilize Ice Breakers
Going back after COVID, your team may be a little rusty on the water cooler small talk. Feel free to help them out and bring back the friendly chemistry with some ice breaker activities! Ice breakers don’t always have to be literal ice breaker questions. You can also use simple, but effective, games or email chains. Quick ice breakers can also help loosen everyone up at the beginning of meetings!
No matter what kind of ice breaker activity you choose, they serve as a fun, low pressure way to help people develop a rapport with each other and become more comfortable together going back after COVID.
4. Generate Excitement
Make going back to the office something to celebrate! As a leader, it’s imperative you foster an environment where your team feels excited to be together again, rather than dreading having to be in the office. Try hosting lunch for the team on the first day in the office back after COVID and inviting employees to have fun together again. During lunch is also a great time to go over any important company news or updates that you may need to share.
Another way to create excitement when your team returns back after COVID is to present something new! Perhaps there are a few office renovations your company never got around to. Now’s the time! A new and improved office is just another reason to celebrate!
5. Prioritize Team Building
At The Escape Game, we definitely understand the value of team building, especially in a transitional period. Scheduling a few team building activities at the beginning of your new full time schedule is definitely worth it! Participating in an activity, like an escape room, together will assist your team with their communication skills, boost their morale, and help them feel happy to be part of a caring company.
Is your team still working remotely? Not a problem! We’ve got options for you too.
Best of luck to your team as you make the transition back after COVID!
Whether you’ve already returned full-time to the office, are in a hybrid situation, or are still working remotely, creating a strong team should always be a top priority!