A Guide to Getting Your Team Back into the Office

By Fay Capstick

The Covid pandemic has meant that many of us have been working from home for the past couple of years. While some companies still have a significant majority of their workers working remotely, others are encouraging or insisting on a return into the office. This week we will look at how to get your team back into the office as smoothly as possible.

Why might people be resistant to go back into the office?

Working from home has meant people have saved time on commuting. They have been able to run errands at more suitable times. They have used their extra time to take up hobbies, exercise, and see more of their friends and families.

There is a big reluctance from many to give this up and go back to hours stuck in a car, on a bus, or a train or walking. Plus dealing with co-workers who might have annoying habits or interrupt their work by chatting. People have learned that it can be far more efficient to work at home.

Going back into the office, even if it is only part of the week, is turning into a hard sell. People don’t tend to like their routines being changed.

What can you do?

Flexibility: When they were working from home your employees had a great deal of autonomy over their working day and when they took breaks. The work still got done, so be flexible and if possible let employees set their daily schedules.

Also, some employees will simply be more productive and happier when working from home. Try and accommodate this as best as possible if you can.

Recognise differences: Everyone is different, and not all workers will want to be, or will work best, in a loud open plan office environment. Some will want a more quiet, personal space and a return to the office could cause them sensory overload. Do your best to accommodate each worker’s personal preference. Re-organise your office space if needed to make quiet areas. The important thing is to ask people what they want and respond accordingly to their needs.

Little things: Consider putting a small gift on the desk of an employee for their first day back in the office. Remember they will probably be a bit nervous about the transition. Perhaps a gift card for the local coffee shop, their favourite snacks or a plant.

Team building: Scheduling some fun team building activities can be a good way of fostering a sense of belonging. It is also a good way to break the ice among people who may not have seen each other in person for many months.

Snacks: Make the office a fun place to be. Consider providing snacks and other perks in the office. Staff will have been used to working next to their kitchens at home, with ready access to drinks and snacks. Snacks, for free, in the office, will give a boost to wellbeing.

Pet Parents: Many of us got new furry members of the family during lockdown. Consider letting workers bring their (by now hopefully well behaved and trained) dogs into work. Amazon is one of many companies that has such a policy. There is even an Instagram account highlighting the best doggos (https://bit.ly/3vZGVom). Amazon has gone as far as providing dog exercise areas and amenities.

If you find not all of the dogs in your office are getting along, consider limiting the number of dogs on any one day. Have a booking system in place. Workers will likely be happier if their pets are beside them rather than at home alone. It will make the transition easier for your workers and their pets.

Final thoughts

Your office is where your team culture can develop. You can help provide that direction by the amenities and facilities you put in. It should be a safe space where people want to work and feel supported. Obvious stuff, but a worker unhappy to be back working in an office area not suited to their working style will not give you their best performance. Try and accommodate individual needs as best you can.

As a leading company in our industry, IT and Digital recruitment and resourcing, and with over 30 years of experience, we at Parker Shaw are well placed to advise you on all your hiring needs and concerns.

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