5 Tips for the Return to the Office

employée sur un skate dans le bureau
Morgane Lança
July 29 2021

It’s official, the possibility of returning to the office has been announced!

It’s time to plan employees’ return, and after more than a year of telecommuting, it’s obvious that organizing the return to the office will be a challenge.

Don’t panic! We’ve got 5 tips for the return to the office – inspired by Sarah (La Talenterie) and Marianne’s (Go RH) advice during our last webinar hosted in French – that will show you the right way to go.

1) Rethink Your Workspace

Now is the time to make the office look good before you go back to work! To do so, it’s essential to rethink the workspace. Is it flexible?

Most employees now know the comfort of telecommuting from the warmth of their homes. They have learned to appreciate their more familiar workspace. It is therefore important to meet their heightened expectations for comfort. Is your office a welcoming place?

The value of comfort during effort

This question can lead to the implementation of rest areas, or to the enhancement of these areas if they already exist.

A well-equipped cafeteria fit for coffee breaks is always a plus. An environment that encourages breaks with adapted furniture and dedicated spaces will improve your employees’ productivity, in addition to humanizing the office.

Why not consider installing lockers or dedicated closets, like in school? Employees will feel encouraged to bring their personal belongings to the office, making it a familiar space that they identify with.

In short, make your employees want to go to the office for a happy and successful return!

2) Implement Employee Re-boarding

The switch to telecommuting may have been sudden and disarming for employees. They sometimes found themselves struggling, facing difficulties in accessing all the equipment they needed to work comfortably.

Give them a warm welcome

There is still time to remedy the situation by providing them with all the essential tools as soon as they return to the office:

  • mouse pads, computer equipment;
  • stationery, notebooks
  • pens with the company’s logo, etc.

We can even go further with less essential – but all the more appreciated – goodies such as mugs, clothing or personalized gifts. In short, it’s all about making the return to the office an expected and stimulating event… Like a real first day of school!

Re-onboarding can also involve a quick tour of the office in order to readapt to interacting with colleagues, and to start a smooth return into the workspace.

See Folks HR in action!

Did you know that Folks HR has a specific onboarding feature?

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3) Focus on the Social Dimension

For some employees, the return to the office will actually be their first day in the office. If they were hired during the pandemic, it is very likely that they have never seen their colleagues in person. And even for others, after a long absence from the office, it is essential to break the ice.

Getting back in social shape

In order to start off on the right foot, it may be appropriate to quickly remind everyone of workplace etiquette to ensure a positive atmosphere in the office. Emphasizing socialization and cooperation between employees is important. Encourage exchanges between teams, involve the managers of each department… Employees will remember that office life also means a return to the rewarding social exchanges that can be cultivated at work!

4) Organize Team Events

Over the past year, we have all been deprived of precious moments dedicated to our pastimes and hobbies. The return to the office represents the perfect time to get back to activities with coworkers.

Take the lead!

Don’t wait until the last minute: think about team building activities as soon as you start preparing your return to office plan. 

This can be as simple as a lunch or afterwork drinks with coworkers, but you can also organize games and relaxing moments dedicated to exchanges between colleagues.

The practice of a sport will also be appreciated. All of these simple events will contribute to your employees’ physical health as well as their mental health!

Setting up these small events in the first days of the return to the office helps show employees the social value of this return. They will also know that a good working atmosphere will be waiting for them when they come back.

The return to the office should not be seen as a chore for your employees. Make sure that it’s an experience that brings people together!

5) Be Present and Transparent

Out of all these tips, the most important is transparency in all your decision making in the current situation. 

Managers must be present, discuss with employees, and be sensitive to possible office work anxieties. The return to the office is also an opportunity to reconnect. Now, more than ever, is the time to listen to your employees: be transparent about health and organizational measures and remain an attentive presence throughout this difficult transition. Managers and HR will obviously be at the core of these interviews and informal discussions with the employees.

To summarize:

  • Involve managers as much as possible
  • Organize individual interviews with your employees
  • Be attentive to their needs and possible fears, especially in regards to their health
  • Communicate with your employees on all aspects of the return to the office.

These are essential tips to make a good first impression, and to make the whole organization want to get involved in the return to the office!

Take extra time to do it right

After such a long absence, it would not be appropriate to rush in organizing the return to the office. Setting up a climate of trust with your employees is necessary, and the work pace can take time to get back to ‘the way it was before’.

This adjustment period represents an ideal time to apply our previous tips. Make sure you do it right, rather than rushing it. This is also the perfect moment to show your employees your appreciation for their adaptability during this crisis, precisely by adapting to their integration back to the office.

To make sure that all conditions have been met for an optimal return to the office, you can also use a checklist detailing the steps to be taken. 

This will save you precious time on administrative tasks related to the return of employees!

Download our free checklist to help you organize the return to the office smoothly!

These 5 tips will help you take the lead in organizing your return to the office and ensure a productive and satisfying return to work for everyone!

In need of help to plan the return to the office?

Folks supports you in all your organizational needs!

Request your free demo now

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