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13 July 2021 · by Huntress Top tips for returning to work after COVID-19

As we continue to transition out of lockdown, there are a lot of questions around what the future of the ‘workplace’ looks like. The pandemic has affected us all in different ways, and it is only normal to feel uncertain about what the future holds when restrictions are lifted next week.

Staff returning to the office after an extended period at home may feel confused, worried, and cautious about the changes happening around them. It is therefore now more important than ever for businesses to support their staff and facilitate a supportive, compassionate, and positive experience within the workplace.

Below is a series of top tips to ensure your team’s transition back into the office, is a smooth one.

Connect with your team
Prior to going back into the office, ensure you keep in touch regularly with your team. This doesn’t mean you have to talk about work, but a quick check-in will help team members feel connected and valued, especially after a long period of remote working.

Plan and prepare
Before staff return to work, make sure you have clearly informed your team on the provisions that have been made to create a safe work environment moving forward. Ensure they have everything they need to ensure their transition back into the office, is a smooth one and that they can carry out their duties comfortably and safely. Have you asked them the following?

  • How will they get to work?
  • Do they require additional support?
  • Are they comfortable with the safety measures in place? If not, what would make them feel more at ease?

Set realistic expectations
The way in which we all work is likely to keep changing in the coming weeks so you will need to prepare staff to adapt quickly moving forward. Make sure you are honest and transparent with your team, although there is now light at the end of the tunnel, we still have a long journey ahead. 

Old ways of working might well be behind us, but staff should take this opportunity to do things differently, and better. Remember, change doesn’t have to be negative! Look out for yourself, look out for your team and take each day and week at a time.

Deal with demotivation
While many people can’t wait to get back into the office, others will have found they prefer working from home. Getting back into a routine, earlier alarms, the dreaded commutes and rigid hours will likely cause some level of work demotivation amongst your team. 

If you can, try and be flexible with working hours for the first week or two, so staff can get used to getting back into a rigid routine. Encourage them to schedule their week and sketch out important to-dos that will help provide structure and make them feel like they have achieved something. Remind them to keep their expectations realistic or they may end up put too much pressure on themselves.

Finally, it’s important to remember that everyone is finding their own path after a turbulent year and things might not always go to plan straight away, but that is fine and expected! This is a period of change for us all and it’s important to reassure employees that although the typical workplace as we know it may be different, this provides us all with an opportunity to analyse how we do things and in turn, do them better.