Encouraging employees back to the office

With vaccines being rolled out globally, we’re gradually starting to see a return to some normality and more organisations across the world are starting to reopen for their team members. However, after working from home for nearly 18 months, the convenience, productivity, flexibility and work-life balance of remote working is undoubtedly going to make many employees a little reluctant to head straight back to the office.

For organisations that are enthusiastic to get their team to return to the workplace, these reservations from employees may hinder plans. We have adopted a flexible, hybrid working approach here at Sign In App, but we are firm believers that having some face-to-face interaction with all staff members is crucial in order to maintain a great company culture. We feel that one of the key elements to a successful hybrid working strategy where employees still regularly visit the office is creating a space they actively want to come to. Below are a few of our tips to help organisations successfully encourage employees back to the office without making it mandatory.

Be decisive and clear

Before communicating your reopening plans with your team, make sure you have a clear plan set in place. Don’t fall into the trap of becoming one of those organisations that goes straight in with hybrid working one week and the next deciding that you want employees in the office full time. Indecisiveness presents the risk of employees not feeling comfortable about the return. Here’s some things to think about:

  • Is a flexible, hybrid approach feasible in your organisation?
  • Will some roles need to have some restrictions with flexibility?
  • Do you want one day a week or month where all the team is together?
  • If you are saying that employees need to come in multiple days a week, have you explained why?
  • Will certain meetings need to be done at the office?

Once you’ve made decisions, communicate this clearly in a policy and share with all of your employees and be on hand to answer any questions they may have about the new ways of working.

Safety first

Moving forward, “safety first” should be your motto. If we’ve learnt anything from the last year, it’s just how important it is to protect both the physical and mental wellbeing of your employees. Your team will be much more inclined to return to the workplace if they’re reassured that as an employer you’re doing everything you can to make it as safe as possible for them. Ensure that any changes to support employee safety are communicated to all staff members clearly.

This may include improved health and safety processes such as asking health questions on arrival, increased cleaning regimes, socially distanced desks, etc.

Change policies

With “safety first” in mind, now is a great time to refresh your policies to put the mental and physical wellbeing of your team members at the forefront. One policy that you may want to pay particular focus to is your sick day policy. Not only is it going to be important to ensure that employees do not come into the workplace if they are feeling unwell physically, but with more awareness around mental health over the past 12 months, it could be beneficial to your organisation to clearly state that mental health sick days are included in your policy; particularly if you have millenials and Gen Z among your workforce. Studies have shown that 63% of the UK population don’t realise that there’s no legal difference between a sick day and a mental health sick day. In addition to this, 72% of Gen Zs and 58% of Millennials experienced mental health issues, however 75% of Gen Z would worry about being called a ‘Snowflake’ if they took a mental health sick day, to the extent that 43% would not even take the day off.

Create a space that’s welcoming

One of the best ways to encourage employees back to the office is to create a space that makes them want to come back. Consider how your team has been working throughout the last year; think about what benefits they’ve had working from home and whether you could offer them in your office. For example, introduce some standing desks or more breakout areas, ensure there’s refreshments available whenever employees are in the office. You could also create a welcoming ambience through decor such as plants, pops of colour and comfy seating. Never underestimate the power of FOMO (fear of missing out) - employees may be more encouraged to return to the workplace if they feel as though they’re missing out.

Get early returners to share their experience

There will be some employees that are eager to get straight back to the office and have a change of scenery. If you regularly have team catch-ups via video call, it’s the prime time to get those early returners to share their experience of going back to the office with their colleagues. This can be really subtle - simply ask them how their day went when they came back in as general small talk. The more cautious employees amongst your team may seek comfort in hearing their colleagues share that they’ve had a positive experience when returning to the workplace.

Embrace technology

If you’re utilising some of the tips above by improving safety procedures and introducing new policies such as hybrid working, technology can be a game changer in making the transition seamless. Visitor management systems in particular have evolved rapidly over the past 12 months to bring out new features which can help organisations improve their health and safety processes, manage employee sign in whether on-site or working remotely, and easily implement hybrid working and hot desking with desk and meeting room booking.

Hopefully some of the tips above will help you successfully encourage employees back to the office, but if you’d like to chat more or get some more information about our visitor management system which can also help you to manage employee sign in and book desks/meeting rooms, get in touch! You can reach our friendly customer experience team 24 hours a day via live chat, telephone or email; all of our contact details can be found here.