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empty conference room waiting for the return to the office

8 Tips to Prepare the Workplace for the Return to the Office

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Who knew the return to the office could start giving us nightmares? Nobody would have guessed working in their comfiest clothing, waking up late, and opening the door to the post to bring our online orders would become a part of our daily routine. Many companies are planning to return employees to workplaces, either to relieve the burden of isolation or to remain financially afloat. While some of us are quite hesitant to give up the benefits and flexibility that working from home has given us so far.

Remote employment has been the norm for many of us for the past few months. According to a poll conducted by Redback Connect, 86 percent of respondents want to continue working from home. However, not all employees feel this way, many report feeling lonely, unmotivated, and frequently distracted. We have all developed new virtual-working abilities and methods of communicating with our co-workers, customers, relatives, and extended families. But, now that it’s almost back to normal, we all must buckle up and be prepared to move back into the workplace.

Businesses may need to come up with innovative ways and ideas to get their employees back into the office comfortably, without pressuring them. This could be achieved by offering some kind of simple gesture and making the office space feel more relaxed and friendly (like home). Companies need to look at this time of return as potentially a little anxiety inducing for staff, even though they may be excited to come back to the office.

Here are a few things businesses can do to welcome their employees back and make the transition run smoothly.

1. Welcome Email

Take them back to the very beginning, to the onboarding phase. It’s no joke that we all stopped paying so much attention to the time, stopped wearing shoes, and were perhaps not too strict with our shower routine. The welcome email should be a light-hearted welcome back, with a mix of some serious business, and practical information about how the return to the office will work. This will help employees back into the swing and off to a good start.

2. Invite them for Brunch or Happy Hour

We have all seen each other’s faces on screen or maybe had a virtual happy hour or two, but nothing beats the real thing. Treat your employees to a catered meal or a happy hour while keeping in mind the social distancing rules. Applaud, laugh, and commiserate over all the Zoom or Teams’ mishaps.

3. Token of Gratitude

Surprise surprise, everyone enjoys receiving gifts, why not take this opportunity to thank your team for hanging in there and treat them to something special. No need to go overboard, but handing out a new coffee mug, mouse pad, or adjustable back support, is enough to show that you care, and you’re happy to have them back.

4. Therapy Dogs for Morale Booster

Companies invest a significant amount of time and money into organising and executing team-building practices. Studies show that the inclusion of dogs in the workplace can enhance cooperation, so it’s a better option to save resources. Therapy dogs can lift mood, reduce stress levels and improve happiness.

5. Lift the Mood with Lush Greenery

It’s true! Plants aren’t just for Instagram stories or posts. They are also very valuable in the workplace. Plants and greenery brighten up the office space and give it a cosier and more welcoming feel. Undoubtedly, it contributes to increased employee happiness as they become more active and responsive because of the positivity around them.

6. Creative workspace stations

Most of us feel quite relaxed and laid-back working from home and hanging around our designated space. The workstations should include comfortable chairs,  a footrest, and an ergonomic mouse and keyboard to keep the employees engaged.

7. Carve Out a Recharging Spot

It can be done by adding some fun indoor games like ping pong, foosball, chess, and video games. Organising weekly tournaments will help the team to re-connect and feel more associated with the workplace after months of being away.

8. Revamp Micro Kitchen

It’s time to turn the drab, uninspiring break room into a vibrant collaborative setting. Fill up the pantry with healthy snacking options, and more coffee (we Australians are hooked on our coffee) to tempt staff into the area. Before you know it, break time will turn into casual collaboration gatherings brimming with ideas and contributions.

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