According to a recent report, 90 percent of companies said they will require employees to return to the office at least part of the week in 2023. There are a variety of business-case reasons for a return to the office. For example, one executive last year said he expects ideation and culture to improve when employees are in the office. If you’re considering a return-to-office policy for your company, here are six ways to smoothly transition employees to the office.
Clearly communicate with employees
Many employees will feel anxious or resist returning to the office, so it’s important to be completely transparent when you communicate your return-to-office plan with them. In fact, 47% percent of individuals in one survey said a lack of clear communication about a post-pandemic work plan is a cause for concern. Be clear about your reasoning behind bringing employees back to the office, your expectations for employees, and the measures you are taking to keep everyone safe and healthy. Develop a communication strategy and timeline to ensure you are communicating essential information to the appropriate audiences on a timely basis.
Be open to employee feedback
Along with internal communications with employees, it’s equally as important to ask for employee feedback in return. Conduct a return-to-office survey to learn how employees feel about going back to the office, what they are concerned about, and any suggestions or questions they have about the transition. And make sure you address these concerns and questions during future internal communications. After employees have returned to the office, continue to collect employee feedback on how employees are adjusting to working in the office again.
Offer additional benefits/perks
It goes without saying that not all employees will be thrilled about going back to the office. So what can you do to make working in the office a more positive experience for employees? One survey says 88% of companies are using incentives to get people back into the office. But don’t think a “Welcome Back” gift bag or free food is going to be enough. Work flexibility is a key component many employees are looking for, so you could offer employees options like more paid time off, a four-day work week, or a hybrid work arrangement. Commuter benefits, on-site daycare options, and pet stipends are some additional benefits companies are offering to reduce any strain employees feel from not working remotely five days a week anymore.
Provide mental health support
Unfortunately, transitioning back to working in the office could take a toll on some employees’ mental health. According to a study from Business Group on Health and Fidelity, 91% of employers surveyed are going to make mental health a priority in their return-to-office strategy. Here are a few steps you can take to make this transition as easy as possible for everyone:
- Provide access to mental health resources, such as an Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
- Communicate frequently with employees about your return-to-office plans and respond to employee feedback.
- Train supervisors on how to recognize signs of depression or anxiety in employees.
- Offer flexible work options that promote a healthy work-life balance.
Take the transition step-by-step
If going from a work-from-home model directly to a work-from-office model seems like too drastic of a change, it could be a good idea to take a step-by-step approach to the transition. Instead of employees coming back to the office full-time right away, they could start by working in the office 1-2 times a week. After they’ve settled into that routine, they can come into work a few more times a week until they’re full-time. This approach gives employees time to adjust to the change and gives employers a better chance to carefully monitor how the transition is going.
Decide what the right choice is for your company
If you’re still on the fence about having your employees return to the office, remember you aren’t the only company feeling this way. What’s most important is that you are taking the necessary steps to make the best decision for your company and your employees, whether that’s a remote, hybrid, or in-office work situation.
Want to learn more about how you can support your employees? Check out our employee wellness guide below!
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The information in this blog post is for educational purposes only. It is not legal or tax advice. For legal or tax advice, you should consult your own legal counsel, tax and investment advisers.
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