Returning to your regular workplace/office will take effect for many employers across the world in the next coming days, especially as COVID-19 responses are being further reviewed. This is a welcoming move for many, especially for businesses that have struggled through remote working, social isolation and travel cancellations.
On the other hand, the swift reintroduction to office life can be risky if mishandled. We must ensure proper planning to succeed during this important transition. These plans include maintenance of safety, managing resources, and re-building morale within the team. Below are our essential points to ensure a successful transition back to life at the office.
What to expect
Most of us have been away from our offices for over a month, meaning that it is natural to feel some discomfort moving back out of your comfort zone and into the workplace due it being another transition to prepare for. The changes may include a completely new environment, new team members, new business goals and more.
What is very important here is to rebuild team morale, since teams have been physically disconnected for quite a long time. Successful workplaces thrive on motivated work forces, therefore it is now more important than ever for all of us to rebuild that team connection and offer extra support to one another during the first few weeks of transition. This can be implemented by asking questions, acknowledging any concerns and being that extra-supportive helping-hand to ensure minimum discomfort for each other at the office.
A few ways to improve work culture in the coming weeks is to promote achievements, encourage cross-functional collaboration and remind ourselves of our positive vision, mission and purpose of our business for the future. Fun-team building activities and simple team conversations throughout the early days of transition may be much needed to help lift team spirits and let off some steam.
A change in work environment may also cause a disruption of focus. Solving this will require keeping communication open and maintaining regular physical communication to provide reassurance to employees who may feel at ease to having a human-to-human connection. Listen to people’s needs and how they are feeling and work together to take action points to address these concerns fast.
Whilst COVID-19 is easing down, we still should not let our guard down. Remain well-protected until further news. This means allowing team members to choose to wear personal protection equipment (such as face masks), keeping stock of hand sanitizers and making sure that the office space is being cleaned regularly.
Make sure to maintain healthy work hygiene by reminding any sick staff to remain at home – especially as the risk of more COVID-19 infections is still possible. A survey here exposed that a high 41% of employees were afraid to move back to the office due to the risk of exposure to infection. Make sure to stay attentive to any staff’s concerns to avoid health risks and ensure success of your reintroduction to office-life again.
Returning to work is essential for any business to move forward. Taking these considerations whilst developing your plan to successfully transition back to office-life will ensure a warm and fruitful return, instead of a risky one.
What have we learnt?
We have learnt that COVID-19 has created a negative impact in most cases. However, we should not ignore the fact that this important period in history has also delivered some important benefits as well, such as more people uncovering stronger collaboration within and across teams, more productive working routines remotely and a reinforcement of health practices. We must take the positives of this period, learn from it, and see which parts can be implemented to help the future of our businesses especially as the workforce evolves from this moving on.
Teams are now more effective as ever using virtual communication tools. In the case of a circumstance where remote work or remote communication is needed, we are more prepared through our online-working-practices now more than ever.
To conclude, it is important to:
- Ensure that your organization’s culture is inclusive; meaning that everyone in the team is returning to a supportive and caring environment from everyone else in the team.
- Understand that the pandemic has affected people differently than others. Listen to any concerns, find ways to help those who have been hit worse by the pandemic more than you have.
- Workloads may increase or decrease, goals and missions of the business may change. It is important to adapt to changes caused by the pandemic to come out on top and move forward.
- Admit the fact that the effects of pandemic may remain to cause negative feelings within the team until further updates. Again, extra support for each other is vital here to ensure inclusive team support.
- Rebuild the office team morale that you had before the COVID-19 pandemic – for it is the warmth of positive human connection that can be the special tool to help us all transition back to our offices with success.
Are you curious to know the top five things people in Thailand want to do after the lock-down? Find out below:
Surprisingly, getting a haircut was the first priority of things that people wanted to do after lock-down!
The second priority was the urge to travel abroad and to other provinces to make a switch from the time spent indoors.
The third and fourth priorities were to eat out at restaurants and go shopping – which can both be done at the many shopping malls in Thailand.
Lastly, the fifth priority was to get back to the office, re-unite with co-workers, and begin a working-life routine again.
(source: Bangkok Post)
Next: speaking of the urge to travel – read about our volunteering adventures in Chiang Mai province, Thailand, below!
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller
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