Covid-19 has changed our entire lives. From the way that we spend our time, see our friends and also how we exercise too, I know I’ve struggled to keep a regular gym routine with gyms open and closed with restrictions. Another part of our world that has changed due to Covid is the way that we work.
Many businesses have had to shut over the past 18 months due to the pandemic sweeping the world to protect their staff members and keep them safe. However, with the vaccination drive working how it was hoped and more people being protected, the time has come to start to try and inch our way back to normal. Or at least the normal that we are used to.
This means that for many employers, it is time to work their employees back into the workplace. Of course, this is an exciting time, but, for some, it can be worrying. After all, there is going to be a whole lot of concern and anxiety linked to Covid-19, as well as being away from their home and their families for the first time in over a year.
As an employer, it is down to you to try and make the return to work as easy as possible, which of course, isn’t always easy to do. With this in mind and to help you feel ready to welcome people, we have put together some of the things you can do to enable employees to come back to work post-covid.
Send out a Covid survey
The chances are that you have tried to stay in touch with your employees throughout their time working from home, which means that communication has been regular and consistent. As the time comes closer to your employees coming back into work, you need to make sure that you keep up this communication to an even higher level.
This is particularly true when it comes to sending a survey to get staff’s thoughts on the pandemic and what a return to work will look like. The content and nature will depend on your business type, but in the most basic form, it should give you an idea of employees thoughts on covid and returning to their workplaces and what to expect when they come back. This is something we have done recently, which as proved invaluable in understanding our brands across the U.K.
Think about individual teams
While you will be looking at a complete overview of your business as a whole, it is essential to try and drill down into your smaller teams. This is particularly true for the first week back to work. It might be a good idea to set up welcome back meetings with each team throughout the first day, either with you if you are a small business owner or perhaps with relevant line managers if you are larger in size.
It might also be a great idea to give each team their own breakout area (or a meeting room), which allows them to have their own catch-up on their return.
Leave a little gift
IY doesn’t harm to leave them a small token on their return to work. This could be a new stationery set, a mug or perhaps a water bottle. Just something simple that will make them smile and show them that you are thinking about them.
Arrange a virtual workshop
Along with the welcome back email that you send, it is also a good idea to make sure that you give your employees the chance to put forward their concerns and their questions about returning to work. Of course, you can’t really meet face to face or have one-to-one discussions with every single person, which means that a great approach to take is to hold a workshop.
You can decide how big this, whether there is just one with everyone in attendance, or you drill it down to departments or teams. The idea is that they can submit their questions, and you can answer them as best that you can. If you want to be as prepared as possible with your answers, you may want to ask staff members to send in their questions before the actual event, as this will allow you to put together your response and have it in full detail.
Remember that they are going to be worried
It is essential to remember that your staff members will be worried and anxious about their return to work as an employer. This means that it is down to you to put their mind at rest and ensure that they feel that their concerns are being listened to. Try to be patient with them whilst getting themselves ready to return and for those first few days back.
It will take them time to settle back into their routine and feel comfortable being back at work. This is normal, and you should put too much pressure on them to get back to their usual level.
Try to be flexible
Your staff will have got used to being flexible with their working approach over the past year, and it will be a huge adjustment to go back to more rigid working approaches. This means that one of the things you can do for every employee is to try and be as flexible as possible.
Of course, you should still keep the interests of your business in mind, but you also want to remember that your staff may not have their usual form of childcare, and they may have other commitments that they have to keep to as well.
This way of working won’t last forever, but while it does, it is down to employers to make sure that they do whatever they can to keep their employees feeling happy, comfortable and ready to face their return to work with a smile on their face.
(Image, incspaces, Leeds)