5 Ways to Help your Employees Transition Back to The Office

Let’s face it—for lots of people, working from home has been wonderful, and they’re reluctant to come back to the office full-time (or even part-time) for any number of reasons. Others can’t wait to get back to the familiar rhythms, camaraderie and collaboration of the workplace. Either way, if you’ve decided that your business just isn’t the same without your employees in-house, there are ways to help even the most reluctant ease back into the routine. Here are a few ways to help your staff transition back into office life.

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Acknowledge reality

Being over-the-top effusive about having everyone back together may work for the true believers, but for others, it may come across as out of touch. Like those first days back from an idyllic vacation, many people need to ease into the world of work. It’s not that they don’t appreciate, or even love, their job, it’s that they found a new way to get their tasks done beyond your four walls and didn’t find that working from home negatively impacted what they or their teams were able to accomplish. After all, if Zoom fatigue is a real thing, then it’s real for a reason—because people were using it often and effectively. So yes, be enthusiastic about having the team back together, but acknowledge that there will be a period of adjustment for just about everyone, no matter how pumped they are to stop working remotely. Long-term success comes from more than just a good marketing strategy—it also depends on your employees. Brush up on your small business management skills with these tips for entrepreneurs.

Know that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing

People have incredibly busy lives with responsibilities that extend well beyond the office. If your remote work policy left something to be desired prior to the pandemic, you don’t have to revert to it when everyone gets back into the office. There’s no reason you can’t adjust it to align to new preferences and habits your staff has developed, as well as the technologies that have enabled work-from-home to advance in the first place. This is especially true if your teams were getting the job done remotely. If nothing really suffered from lack of being together, then take that into consideration and provide a more flexible work style. If it turns out not to work, so be it. You can always readjust, and your employees are likely to come along with you when you provide real evidence of where things are falling short.

Keep the clean-freak in you alive

People have gotten used to a certain level of cleanliness over the past year. While masks have proven controversial, hand sanitizer and a regular cleaning schedule have not. Continue to keep hand sanitizer (ahem) handy throughout the workspace, along with desk wipes, computer cleaners, glass wipes, etc., so those who want keep things germ-free can do so easily. As well, you may wish to design your workplace so people are naturally socially distanced and/or have acrylic sneeze guards or barriers placed between them and their coworkers. Pandemic or not, people really don’t like to be up close and personal with others who may be ill. Keep the common areas such as cafeterias, break rooms and restrooms up to the new standards, too.


Be flexible

Your employees have established new routines while they’ve been away from the office, and they may need a little time to readjust, especially if they have children still out of school, are serving as a caregiver, etc. Set clear expectations about the goals, objectives and deadlines you expect them to meet, but allow them to do so by scheduling time in a way that works for them and for the others on their team. If you like to host group activities like dinners, happy hours and other off-site adventures, make sure your more reluctant employees have an elegant out. This isn’t the time to force people to be together outside of work hours if they’re not comfortable doing so.

Invite collaboration

Not only are your employees getting used to the new normal, so are your clients. There is a great deal of common experience amongst everyone who’s navigated this very strange year, and the people who know your business best are going to be invaluable as you look to the future. Let staff know where the company stands and what your vision for the future is, then cut them loose to help make it happen. When they do, they’ll feel like they’re a part of something positive and that you trust them to help grow the business. After all, it’s their livelihood, too. Plus, as the old saying goes, a good idea doesn’t care where it comes from. Tap into the collective consciousness of all those great people on your team. Get their creative juices flowing with these customer experience trends shaping 2021 and beyond.

Getting back to “normal”—whatever that turns out to be—will be a welcome change for many from the year of the pandemic. Here are some more tips to help you reopen your small business successfully in 2021, including ways to bring back former customers and attract new clientele.

About the Author

Ray Ko is the Senior Ecommerce Manager at ShopPOPDisplays, located in New Jersey. ShopPOPDisplays is a leading retail displays manufacturer of point-of-purchase displays. Combining over 20 years of experience in branding, content, search engine marketing, Ray is an expert in formulating and implementing e-commerce strategies to drive site traffic, improve user engagement, and increase revenue.