For most people, working from home during the pandemic was a dream come true. Now that most of the population are well vaccinated, employers are starting to reopen their offices to revert to the way things were.
A survey from Harvard Business School revealed that 81% of employees prefer to work remotely or a hybrid working model. 27% hope to work from home permanently, while only 18% want to return to the office full time.
More than 80% of workers returning to the office in Singapore claimed that flexible work arrangements are important to them. 50% of existing employees have already requested a flexible schedule, and business leaders reported that 56% of prospective applicants are actively discussing flexible working policies before they even decide to join.
With a majority of the workforce still hesitating to return to a physical workspace, how can HR leaders smoothen the transition for employees to re-enter the office? Read on to find out.
1. Create a Safe Environment
HR leaders’ top priority should be keeping the workforce healthy and safe at all times. Give employees peace of mind by assuring that all safety measures have been sorted out before welcoming them back to the office. Reinforce government-regulated Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs) for social distancing, temperature checks, sanitising stations, and grant enough time for those who tested positive for COVID-19 to recover fully.
2. Reflect and Rebuild Engagement
If we are being honest with ourselves, working from home (WFH) wasn’t all stress-free. Halfway through the isolation, employees found themselves experiencing burnout from what experts call COVID-fatigue. However, there were undeniably great takeouts from remote working. Managers should reflect on how work was done during the pandemic and continue to implement what was effective in a post-covid office setting—like reducing meetings that could have been emails.
Don’t forget to reconnect with your employees. Some of them might not have stepped foot into your office, so make an effort to check in regularly to understand them better. Organise get-togethers for social events, festive celebrations, and enrol them for growth and development programs to keep them on their toes.
3. Be Transparent and Tactful
A lot has happened since pre-pandemic days, and every individual has had stories to tell. The last thing workers want is more uncertain rulings at the office. Ensure that the company’s office policies are up to date and be transparent about the reasonings behind the organisation’s decision. If the company cannot match employees’ expectations on the renewed working environment, listen to their plight and concerns with compassion. Try to help them where you can and empathise with their situation when you can’t.
4. Let the Team Set New Routines
Remote working has reduced the intensity of micro-management, as managers have no choice but to trust employees to manage their own resources. As a result, these companies witness a boost in productivity, as reported by multiple sources and surveys. Give your team the autonomy to design a work cycle that is in line with what they desire—in terms of where work happens, when work happens, and how work should be done.
5. Establish a Flexible Company Culture
The majority of workers prefer a flexible working arrangement—59% prefer a hybrid working arrangement, 21% favour working from home, and only 20% look forward to working in the office. If you need employees to enter the office, try giving them flexibility while retaining a trust-focused, open culture that remote working encourages. This way, you will make your employees happier and more supported when they return to work—simultaneously increasing employee satisfaction while amplifying progress and productivity.
Ease The Resistance
We understand the challenge of trying to ease the transition of employees re-entering the physical workspace. Let us help you free up precious resources so you can turn your focus to more pressing matters.
Lean on TG to offload your HR administrative tasks so you can focus on helping employees settle in the office—all up and ready to run. With over 100 years of HR experience, you can rest assured of our proven track record in solving diverse workforce issues.
Get in touch to discuss how we can help!