After two years of remote office work, virtually everyone is talking about the return to the workplace. Dominating the headlines are the number of days organizations are inviting (or dictating) employees to return to the office. As we come closer to a mass re-entry there is overwhelming agreement that the legacy office experience is not a great experience. We must accept three new truths:
- The center of work is no longer tied to a single location.
- By working at home, your employees have shaped their personal space to their needs.
- We’ve learned that working from home has significantly increased employee engagement.
So, how do you design great return?
The office is a place where employees feel connected to the mission and energized to work with each other.
- Create a workplace champion group that cuts through hierarchy and gathers employee sentiment.
- Celebrate close relationships made during the pandemic in the office by using bulletin boards to share pandemic pets, hobbies.
- Post words of welcome from leadership and invite employee participation with sticky notes.
- Consider welcome back gifts, coffee gift cards, lunch discounts, corporate/brand swag.
- Plan a special lunch or breakfast to welcome folks back.
Welcome employees back to a workplace designed with their experience in mind.
- Complement private workspaces, with communal areas designed to support connection and community.
- Provide plenty of quiet space for employees who need to focus or need a break from social experiences.
- Take a hospitality approach reaching as many of the 5 senses as possible, clean, light-filled spaces, that smell nice and, of course, good food.
- Socialize wellbeing offerings available in the office, provide visual indicators like bracelets employees can use to share their comfort level with in-person activities.
Keep the momentum of employee engagement that has significantly increased during the pandemic.
- Leverage employee champions to redesign work practices equitably and intentionally.
- Equip managers with talking points and conversation guides on the return to workplace.
- Encourage (re)onboarding with buddy system and office tours.
- Make the effort worth it by incentivizing the commute with training credits, ebike/escooter benefits, or discounted parking.
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