Getting Employees Ready to Work at the Office Again

By Sean Dowdall, CMO

Even as America and many places in the world are rapidly moving to work at home for many industries, now is the time for you to plan when your employees will return to your office.

As we have seen in news stories and external communications over the last several weeks, many businesses appeared to be proactively prepared or, at least, responded quickly to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.

There is burgeoning information about the lessons and tips to prepare for (and what to do during) a crisis, but what about when the crisis subsides? Here are my tips for when the work world starts to return to normal:

  1. Develop your internal communications now:
    • Start drafting internal communications that let people know when and how they will return to work and how — if at all — working in the office will change, etc.
    • Prepare a Day 1 Welcome Back communication. Consider offering something special for employees: lunch; cookies; balloons, gift cards, etc.
  2. Get your employees input:
    • Find out what worked and what didn’t while folks worked remotely. How could office and business practice processes be improved for both normal times and times of crisis?
  3. Leverage what worked well:
    • Keep using the virtual tools and the best practices that were used more or developed during the crisis.
  4. Support the community:
    • Support your local businesses right away by shopping and dining.
    • Identify non-profits that could really use the help to recover. Consider buying employees tickets to events, museums, etc.
  5. Revisit office protocols:
    • Do you need more hand sanitizers, sanitizing cleansers and tissues on hand?
    • Add signage for office hygiene best practices.
  6. Review your business continuity plans:
    • Look for what needs to be updated given what you’ve learned over the past few months.
    • If you don’t have a written business continuity plan, write one!
  7. Don’t panic and empathize:
    • Be positive and open with employee communications.
    • Each individual employee will have their own stories and feelings about the crisis and what it’s like to return to work. Acknowledge and use “yes and” to address employee concerns and negative comments.

Be on the lookout for a future blog about tips for external communications when the crisis subsides. Until then, stay safe and healthy!

5 thoughts on “Getting Employees Ready to Work at the Office Again

  1. Sean, great blog and a good reminder that even if it’s going to be a while, business will return – maybe not the same “normal,” but a new “normal.” Cheers, David

  2. As a WFH veteran of 15+ years, I had no problem transitioning to remote work – but going back? I hadn’t even thought of the million little things to celebrate and remember when I’m reunited with my work pals. Thanks for the thoughtful blog.

  3. Love this, Sean! Especially the section about supporting the community. Definitely opportunities for employee-bonding.

  4. Thanks Sean for your thoughtful insights. I found your tip about leveraging what worked especially useful, since it’s always important to establish best practices – to plan well for the future!

  5. Thanks Sean for setting forth some great ideas when we all get back to F2F again which I am very much looking forward to and that day WILL come.

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