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How to prepare your employees’ re-entry at the office

As we slowly move towards a new normal, coronavirus restrictions are becoming less stringent and more structured. We dare to step outside again, and businesses dare to step inside their offices. Now that employees got used to working from home, returning to the office routine may not be as straightforward as you think.

Teleworking was a first for many. But trying out something entirely new can be much easier than going back to what we know. Even more so now that we have experienced the benefits that come with remote work. And let’s be honest, we won’t be going back to what we know, at least not 100%. With a lot of measures still in place, our working place that felt familiar can feel other-worldly through a mask. We give you some tips to make your employees’ return to the office a success. 

  • Locate stressors 

Research has shown that nearly three quarters of workers do not feel ready to go back to the office. Their main concern of course is getting sick, but this pandemic has also shown that you can save on time by avoiding lengthy commutes. As an HR responsible, let employees voice their concerns and avoid anger or anxiety. Make it clear that the company has taken the necessary precautions and has implemented a set of preventive measures to ensure a healthy and virus-free working environment. Other concerns, such as a long or peak-time commute can be addressed too. Show flexibility as an employer and propose flexible working hours, so employees can make it to work during calmer periods. 

  • Defuse demotivation 

As mentioned above, it can be hard to give up on newly acquired privileges. Some employees will have grown used to working from home and will feel demotivated by the prospect of early alarm clocks, long commutes, and rigid working hours. Not anticipating this may lead to a couple of disgruntled faces (something even a face mask cannot hide). You should provide your employees the opportunity to be flexible with their work hours in the first weeks of re-entry. Let them use this moment as a chance to improve on certain processes, rather than blindly going back to them. Have conversations about future work schedules and make a clear policy about remote working right at the beginning. Treat your re-entry as if your employees move towards something new and fresh. Out with the old, in with the new. 

  • Be patient 

As we go, we all make a leap of faith. This unprecedented situation can easily lead to frustrated feelings. Wearing personal protective equipment, keeping social distance and having to follow other measures can be a lot to take. Try to be patient and flexible. Because it is new for everyone, on all company levels. This new normal will go hand in hand with a learning curve: patience, flexibility and empathy are key ingredients for a smooth re-entry.

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