A recent McKinsey study concluded that the number one reason for increased anxiety among employees is the fact of not knowing when and how their return to the office will look like. Yet many executives are still unsure of what the future will bring and are reluctant to set policies that may change.
Here at Feedr, we champion a collaborative and consultative approach to setting team policies. Having helped a number of our clients return to the office recently, we discovered there are three pillars that underpin a successful return to the office strategy.
Involve your team
You must engage with your employees from the very start. Without their involvement, you’ll find it hard to effectively review your workplace strategy and bring people back to the office successfully.
Survey your employees to help understand what they expect from you and uncover concerns and insights that will help make your strategy a knockout. (Hold virtual focus groups or online interviews for a more conversational approach.)
Review feedback with a fine-tooth comb and figure out what you can realistically change in your current return to office and overall workplace strategy.
- Do employees want to continue working from home (WFH) part-time or full time?
- When will employees feel comfortable returning to work?
- Do you still need your current office space?
- What are the biggest concerns about returning to the office?
- What about the office wasn’t missed?
- Do you need to implement a revised flexible working/flexitime working policy?
- Does everyone have the equipment they need to continue WFH?
- Do we need to review our employee services and perks?
Communicate back to office plans
One of the most important elements of your back to office strategy is clear and consistent communication. If you can do this well your returning teams will be able to adjust to new changes positively and will feel more content about returning to the office.
It’s important that these messages stand out from the rest of your standard messaging and engage employees to make them feel part of the journey.
- Communicate plans in advance so employees can prepare.
- Make all messaging clear and concise so everyone gets it.
- With communication, more is more so keep communicating, even if you think it’s clear.
- Use different methods: Send regular updates and reminders via email, messaging apps, or on the company intranet.
- Create a very clear policy and ensure that everyone has read and understood it.
Review everything and measure progress regularly
It’s unlikely that you’ll get everything right the first time, and that’s ok.
Continuous improvement of old and new practices will guide you towards a future workplace that better caters to everyone while still enhancing productivity, enabling a positive culture, and attracting the best talent.
- Constantly review your plans using quantitative and qualitative data. (And don’t just send one more survey after your first month back…)
- Encourage team leaders to have catch ups with their direct reports to discuss how they feel about returning to the office
- Measure the success of your return to work strategy:
- Have you met your goals?
- Has there been a culture change?
- Have wellbeing indicators improved?
- Have productivity figures increased?
- Has absenteeism dropped?
- Has retention and recruitment improved?
It is imperative that any learnings are addressed to ensure continual improvement and strong foundations ready for the future workplace.
Ultimately, you also need to walk the talk and proof to your employees that your business really cares about their wellbeing. Demonstrate it by offering your workforce a perk that is universally attractive – like food. Feedr’s modular product suite of office catering solutions is flexible and scalable – setting you for the future of work from the start. Check out our guide on how to encourage employees back to the workplace + keep them coming back with more tips for your back to office strategy.