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As local and state COVID restrictions are lifted and businesses begin to reopen, employers are facing the challenge of transitioning employees from remote work back to the office. While some employees have lingering concerns about staying healthy, others might simply be reluctant to return to the office after more than a year of working from the comfort of their home and no daily commute. Many have gotten used to a new routine that prioritizes their sleep, exercise and quality time at home with family.

Employers are ready to embrace in-person collaboration and company culture once again, but getting employees on-board may be difficult. Forcing employees back to the office without a reacclimation period or a concrete plan might damage morale. How can you encourage employees to come back to the office? Here are some tips to help you!

Safety First

Ensuring that people feel safe at work is most important. Plan for a safe return by mitigating any risks of COVID spread in your workplace. This might include limited meetings, temperature checks, social distancing measures, workplace reconfigurations, personal protective equipment and frequent cleaning. Additionally, promote healthy physical and mental habits. Let your employees know that you’re prioritizing their health and safety with new rules and precautions in place.

Offer Flexibility

Demanding five days a week in the office immediately is a lot to ask when your employees have adjusted to working from home for over a year. Give your employees time to readjust to a commute, workplace disruptions, more social interactions and less time at home. When they do return, offer your employees more flexibility with a hybrid schedule and flexible workspaces.

Communicate Openly

It’s important that your leadership is communicative and transparent with your employees about new workplace protocols. Communicate openly and frequently with your workforce, checking in to gauge how they feel about returning to work, reminding them of new policies and safety regulations. Remain understanding and listen to your employees with empathy. This goes a long way with employees, who will in turn feel more comfortable speaking openly and honestly with management.

Stick to a Plan

It’s a good idea to have a detailed return-to-work plan. Bringing your employees back to the office without one will lead to confusion and chaos. Be sure to address all of your employees’ concerns by laying out clear guidelines, protocols and safety procedures.

If you’re implementing a partial return to the office or staggered and alternating work schedules for specific departments, develop a detailed schedule to keep you and your employees on track. Give your employees a definite return to the office date with enough time to prepare. Document new policies and share them with your employees before coming back to work! This will ease the transition for you and your employees.