As we begin to see, progress being made in the COVID-19 pandemic, choosing to consider returning to the workplace is one that many managers or those higher up in the company may be considering. However, much like many considerations needed to be made when developing a remote environment, even greater care needs to be exercised when working with the idea of having employees return to work. If your organization is planning on making a move back to the office, here are the top management tips for teams coming back from work from home (WFH) environments.
1. Get your physical workspace back in order.
While mentally returning to the workspace may not be difficult for your in-house team, greeting a cluttered work area that does not promote efficiency and organization can make it hard to return to the same level of productivity as before the pandemic. Fortunately, figuring out how to return to efficient workplace organization practices can be quite simple.
One solution is to use a system like the 5s workplace organization system. In this system, the 5s’s stand for:
- Sort (Seiri): Eliminating any unnecessary items or materials that are cluttering your workspace
- Straighten (Seiton): Ensuring that there’s a proper place for everything and that everything’s in its place.
- Shine (Seiso): Cleaning the space to eliminate waste and contamination (something that’s extremely important as the Coronavirus rages on)
- Standardize (Seiketsu): Regular housekeeping to ensure that the first three steps of the 5s system are being maintained
- Sustain (Shitsuke): Focus on discipline to teach other team members how to clean to ensure that this system continues to work.
With the right work environment that creates energy and spurs action, you and your team will have greater success returning to some semblance of how your organization used to operate.
2. Make sure that your employees have the option to continue working from home.
The individual situation of your employees will vary from person-to-person when it comes to working at the office. For example, one of your employees may live independently and feel completely comfortable coming back to the office. Others, however, may currently be around immunocompromised family members, making it difficult to justify taking any risks, even when it comes to doing something as essential as going to work. The best way to work around these issues is to give your employees the ability to choose when reentering the workspace.
This is also something to consider with new hires. For example, if you’re looking to expand and don’t want to introduce new people to your in-house team, outsourcing your work can allow you to hire remotely and expand without requiring them to come into the office. However, this may not also be possible for your organization’s needs. Ensure when to outsource and when to expand in house teams if hiring will be a focus when you return to work.
3. Remind your employees of in-house expectations.
Depending on how long your team has been out of the office, a refresher on company culture, responsibilities, and expectations you’ll have for your teammates daily, and items like dress code can all be helpful to address once everyone is back in the office.
Following the last example, covering the office dress code can help team members who have become accustomed to work-from-home attire. Talking about the appropriate office attire for men (slacks, loafers, dress pants, suit jackets, button-down shirts, etc.) and proper attire for women (skirts and skirt suits, blouses, flats, leggings, cardigans, accessories, etc.) as well as the casual dress code can be a good way to get everyone back on track. Discussing sensitive items like sexual harassment or showing too much skin can also be something you may wish to discuss with your team.
If they’re looking for places where they can get new office attire if they may not have anything they can currently wear, you could always recommend helpful retailers that sell professional attire to them, such as White House Black Market (WHBM) for high-quality women’s clothing at a great price.
4. Adhere to current COVID-19 safety guidelines.
There’s a good reason why many people are hesitant to return to work in the United States, and this is because COVID-19 is still not contained, and more contagious strains are beginning to spread. If your organization doesn’t think it’s a bad idea and believes now is the right time to start returning to work, the first step in ensuring that your employees will stay safe in the long-term is by following the current safety guidelines and avoiding potential hazards. These include:
- Making sure that all of your employees are wearing face masks when working in proximity to other team members as well as when interacting with employees (making sure that they only interact with others for a limited time)
- Having your employees wash their hands regularly and use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent ethanol or 70 percent isopropyl alcohol.
- Avoiding direct contact with your facial area
- Promoting distancing at least six feet apart or more (this is an excellent idea in an office space where the virus is much more likely to travel)
- Encouraging your teammates to stay at home if they believe they’re sick
The bottom line is that everyone in the organization has to follow these directions if they want to stay safe at the end of the day. Otherwise, your workspace can easily become unsafe for your team. As long as your dedicated team of employees follows these rules, you should be able to minimize the potential for the spread of the Coronavirus.
Much like many disadvantages come with working from home, there are plenty of pros and cons that need to be considered when returning to the office. If you’re a manager who anticipated bringing their team back into the office, use the guide above to make returning easier for everyone and increase your chances of success. To ensure that you have a successful, productive start to 2021, these tips can help you get your workplace in order.