Bringing Employees Back to the Office? Here’s How to Do it Right

You’ve weighed a host of factors, explored multiple options, and gathered essential input. Finally, a decision has been made – your organization is bringing employees back to the office. While the path forward has been established, another challenge is immediately upon you: the need to do it right.

This is particularly true for companies that have had little or no in-office presence since the start of the pandemic. The working world has changed significantly over the past 18 months, so it’s crucial to take a thoughtful approach to ensure the smoothest possible transition. Here are four things that should be on every organization’s to-do list. 

1) Gauge employee sentiment

Before actually pulling the trigger, it’s important to understand how employees are feeling about a return to the office. Talking to their managers is a great place to start; surveying the staff is even better. The feedback you receive will let you know if and where there are concerns so they can be addressed proactively. In the process, you may also uncover areas where employees are more flexible, which will help in creating plans for a return.

2) Make short- and long-term plans

This is a major shift in everyone’s life, so organizations need to have well-thought-out, clearly defined plans for bringing employees back. It’s a good idea to develop both short- and long-term plans, and to allow plenty of room to adjust as needed. For instance, in the short term, it might make sense to start slowly – perhaps 2 days a week in the office, then 3, then the full week, if desired. Or, you may determine that a hybrid schedule addresses everyone’s needs. Whatever the case, build plans that address both the immediate and continuing situations. 

3) Identify must haves, and educate employees

Part of the planning should include identifying the “must haves” that will drive success. For instance, what are the requirements for in-office attendance? What expectations are associated with workloads? How will processes be undertaken in the in-person environment? Once there is a clear vision of these essentials, it’s vital to educate employees on why each is critical, and how the in-office environment makes them achievable. 

4) Communicate early and often

At every stage, from informing to educating to welcoming back employees, communication is critical. It’s also a two-way street, from keeping employees in the loop on plans for a return to listening to their feedback. While it might not be possible to do everything they ask, showing that you’re listening demonstrates that you care about them, and that will go a long way toward easing the transition.

Need assistance in preparing for and/or executing a return to the office? Helping great companies tackle workplace challenges like this are what Alaant’s experts do best. Contact us today and let’s get the conversation started!

About the Author

Tom Schin Director, Talent Acquisition Partnerships & Recruiting Consulting Services for Alaant Workforce Solutions

Tom Schin, Director, Talent Acquisition Partnerships & Recruiting Consulting Services

When he’s not working, Tom is an avid board game enthusiast, from Catan to Canasta, who makes sure game night is fun for everyone (even though they’ll probably lose). He’s also fond of celebrating his status as a child of the ‘80s by watching Star Wars, listening to U2, and reminiscing about his (gone-but-not-forgotten) Andre Agassi haircut.