As we all look forward to the roadmap out of lockdown, businesses are starting to consider opening their offices and welcoming people back into the office again. It's highly unlikely for most businesses to expect employees to rush back into working from an office for a full 5 days, but most employees would embrace getting back to their office desk, their colleagues and a normal working life again.
If you're considering opening offices and wish to safely welcome people back again, here are some cautious COVID-19 practises that may help you prepare to open for your office environment.
Ask your CEO to send a welcome letter
A key lesson we learnt because of the pandemic is the importance of communicating openly and often. Welcoming teams back with a warm letter from the CEO is an effective way to ease people back into the office, discuss new company policies and be transparent about how work duties may have changed.
Outline Covid-19 secure guidelines
Workers will likely see multiple changes in the office, most notably new workplace protocols that will have been introduced as a result of the pandemic. HR leaders should highlight COVID-19 secure measures and new policies that the company have implemented. These may include a one-way system in the office, reducing capacities in meeting rooms and canteens and ensuring desks are spaced at the correct distance apart in line with social distancing regulations. It’s therefore the prime time to encourage employees to develop healthy cleaning habits. For example, Virgin Incentives issued each desk with antibacterial wipes and created several sanitisation points across the office.
Organise team building activities
In the past year, many workers have reported feelings of isolation and detachment from the office environment. Welcoming employees back into the workplace with team-building activities is crucial for rebuilding connections, creating a strong company culture and reinforcing a sense of belonging for your team. For instance, Virgin Incentives have announced an off-site training day followed by a summer party, this not only gives the team something to look forward to but also reminds us that we are better together.
Life during the pandemic has taught us a few things, most notably it’s proven, we can work remotely but also that we can exceed in doing so. For companies to continue reaping the positive changes, they’ll need to tailor themselves to be more flexible. A hybrid working model is likely to be embraced by many companies as it combines the best of both worlds. It’s also very important to give people the option to work from the office, especially those who struggled mentally and physically whilst working from home.
Offer mental health support
Almost every individual has faced personal mental challenges in the past year and it’s hard to just forget those. HR and business leaders should ensure they’re approachable so employees can express openly their concerns about returning to the office. This is also a good time for management teams to educate themselves on mental health practices and anything that can be implemented to help teams manage stress in the workplace. Recently, Virgin Incentives introduced chair yoga sessions to encourage employees to stop, check in with themselves and be mindful.
Reward & recognise your employees
It is important for HR departments to ensure employees are recognised for their efforts, which will positively impact on overall employee experience. One way to do this could include, welcoming your team back with a Virgin Experience Days gift card. Offering access to over 3,000 experiences, they could embark on a range of activities from sky-high adventures to indulgent afternoon teas in luxurious surroundings. Rewarding and recognising employees will also lead to better talent retention in the long-term and joyful & happier people.