How to Plan for Employees’ Return to the Office

Apr 15, 2021

Since the pandemic officially began in March of 2020, businesses across the globe have been scrambling to adjust their operations to accommodate the remote work environment. Even some of the largest organizations in the world haven’t gotten by unscathed by this change, and, as such, working from home has quickly become the new normal over the past year. However, with a vaccine now circulating, and more individuals getting it every day, things are finally starting to look up. This is why many business owners are starting to look into the process of having their employees come back to the workplace. Read on to learn how to plan for employees’ return to the office and what important factors will contribute to your success.

Starting the Process

Like with any other long-term plan involving your team, it’s important that you start by reaching out to them to gauge their interest. Many companies have been doing this by sending out surveys to evaluate how individuals feel about returning to the office. These assessments will allow you to gain an understanding of how your team is feeling about the situation overall and whether they want to come back to their former work environment. From here, you can start your research into current government policy, predictions for the next few months, and pinning down a potential kick-off date for your strategy.

Important Elements to Consider

But in order to most effectively plan for your employees’ return to the office, you need to address all the key elements that could impact this process. After all, while things appear to be positive, being prepared for anything will be crucial to keeping you, your team, and their families safe during the transition. These are some of the major elements that might affect your planning and execution process.

Workplace Safety

First and foremost, you must consider the level of safety involved with making these changes. There’s always a certain amount of risk involved with reintroductions, and making your team feel protected will be essential. Because of this, take your time in mapping out some of the potential hazards and putting precautions in place to mitigate them. For the sake of overall office health, this could mean stocking up on hand sanitizer, masks, and disinfecting wipes. You may also want to consider changing your office layout to increase the space between individual workers. Rework’s team of designers can help with this endeavor!

Ongoing Remote Work

A recent survey showed that only one in ten companies expect all of their workers to return to the office full-time after the pandemic. As such, for your reintegration plan to be successful, it takes acknowledging this possibility and seeking compromise between the two new parts of your work environment. So, put together a plan for your remote workers as well to help maintain communication and productivity—no matter where your workforce will be spending their time.

Policy Changes

These adjustments in worker safety precautions and remote work standards may lead you to make some official company policy changes as well. This is an important thing to keep in mind so that you can be ready to pursue the best strategies for maximizing team effectiveness. Even so, remember that flexibility will be key during this time as individuals get used to their new normal. You should also include new procedures for those feeling sick so that they can readily respond and get the treatment they need.

Additional Things to Keep in Mind

However, this isn’t all there is to address in your return plan. Each company’s method will be unique to their specific team, and it’s up to you to pinpoint the best methods that work for your group of individuals. Here are a few additional tips for organizing and implementing your office repopulation strategy.

Implementing the Change Over Time

Make sure you start reintegration slowly—possibly over the course of several months—to ensure everyone has time to adjust. Since many have been used to working from home for so long, it will take practice to remain focused and present in a new and distracting area. This will especially be the case if your team wants to talk to one another and catch up. So, don’t force the transition to occur. Instead, send certain groups back in phases and ease them back into the structure of the office environment.

Create a Monitoring and Response Strategy

In addition to your return plan, spend some time creating a monitoring and response strategy to keep tabs on the safety of the office. With this in place, you’ll be the first to know should someone get sick and be able to react to it in the most effective manner. This plan might work in tandem with some of your new policies to ensure that afflicted individuals get the treatment they need and that the rest of the workforce remains unexposed.

The Comfort of the Office Environment

Most importantly though, you need to make sure that the office itself is ready for your team to come back. Not only will this be essential to their overall comfort, but it will also help increase their productivity in that now foreign space. You can do this by acquiring new furniture and protective panels for them to use—starting with ergonomic office seating and workstations that allow them the appropriate amount of social distance. With the right resources at your disposal, you can even redesign your office to make it warm, inviting, and friendly after this long time at home. Fortunately, Rework specializes in these forms of office makeovers and can help you start your planning on the right track. So, reach out to us today to see what our professional office designers can do for you.

At Rework, we want to ensure that transitioning your workforce back into the office is as smooth a process as possible. This is why our team will work with you to determine your needs and put together the best layout for keeping your workforce safe. Our Chicago showroom is also home to a series of other refurbished pieces of office furniture such as our benching workstations with dividers, and used filing cabinets. As such, we’re confident that we can supply you with everything necessary to maintain a healthy and structured office space.