Welcome your team members back to work after lockdown with our helpful guide. From staff meeting ideas to greeting new employees to hybrid working tips for keeping remote workers in the loop, welcoming your teams back to the office is fun and easy with our top tips.
The COVID-19 pandemic put a pause on in-person working, but with the lifting of lockdowns and vaccine roll-out successes, you may now find yourself welcoming your team back to the office. If you’re reopening your office doors, and your colleagues are returning to work after lockdown, this article is for you.
In this welcome-back-to-work guide, we’ll help you to:
Returning to work after lockdown and COVID-19 can be tricky - for both you, as the employer, and your employees - so here are some of our top tips to help you give a warm (and safe) “welcome back to the office!” to your colleagues.
When it comes to planning your employees’ return-to-work, one of the most important aspects is creating and distributing clear company-wide comms. This helps reassure your colleagues and keep them well informed throughout the process.
Before you reopen the office, you should give your employees plenty of time to prepare. Going back to work after COVID isn’t straight-forward, so they’ll need plenty of notice to work out a safe commute, arrange childcare, buy new work clothes and sort out anything else they need to get in order before they go back.
Your back-to-work comms should span across a range of channels so everyone in the company is given the opportunity to read them. That could include email, Slack, intranet articles and an announcement in your company all-hands meeting. The more channels you cover with your back-to-work message, the better.
Crafting a comprehensive back-to-work email should be an essential part of your office reopening comms. Use our checklist below to see what you should include in your email (and other channels):
In addition to your back-to-work email comms, you could also send out a return-to-work readiness survey, or form, to get a better idea of how your colleagues are feeling about going back to the office. This will give you invaluable insights to help you shape your office reopening plans and the way you and your teams work moving forward. This way you can address your employees’ actual concerns, rather than guessing their needs. Here’s a checklist of questions you could include in the survey:
Many offices have been closed during the pandemic, with employees either working from home full-time or taking furlough. During this time, employees have created new routines, enjoyed different ways of working and overcome the challenges of working within a distributed team. Because of this, a flexible and phased return to work is essential.
For example, in the UK the Prime Minister has advised a “gradual return to work”. This is a sensible approach that allows employees to adapt and go back to work at their own pace, while ensuring that the office doesn’t reach full capacity before it’s safe to do so.
While many are excited to go back to work after lockdown and meet colleagues once more, it’s important to remember that not everyone feels 100% comfortable with the transition out of lockdown, whether that’s to do with health and safety concerns or simply a preference for remote working.
Here are just some of the ways you can create a flexible, phased return to work to keep your employees’ safety and wellbeing at the forefront:
To give your colleagues a warm welcome back to work, you could leave a surprise gift on their desks ahead of their return. This welcome-back gift could include practical items, such as masks and hand sanitiser, or fun items like individually wrapped sweet treats or wellbeing hampers. Here are some of our favourite return-to-office gift ideas:
After a year plus of Zoom meetings and Slack conversations, it’s likely you haven’t sat down for a physical team meeting in a while. You may feel a little pressure to make it perfect, so here are some team meeting ideas to help you plan ahead.
Firstly, you’ll need to book an appropriately sized meeting room well in advance. You should ensure there’s enough space to safely accommodate all of your in-office team members, perhaps leaving a chair between each person for social distancing. This will help your colleagues to feel safer and more comfortable with their return to the office.
You should also make sure that the meeting room is equipped with the right technology to bring your remote colleagues into the room. A HD screen for Zoom and a high-quality conference microphone are essential.
Once in the meeting room, get the conversation going by starting with some uplifting ice breakers. These could be related to work or personal achievements, but try to keep the conversation positive and set the tone for the rest of the meeting. If you need more inspiration, here are some fun employee ice breaker ideas.
Now that you’ve caught up with each other, it’s time to get productive. Your first team meeting in the office is a great time to throw around ideas, nail down your strategy and plan ahead for the next quarter. Make use of the whiteboard or get creative with sticky notes - just be sure to include your remote workers too!
Keep the discussion on-point and clearly define the amount of time you dedicate to this exercise. If you’re too unstructured, you run the risk of your meeting devolving into an unproductive session where people leave wondering why they should be excited about being back together.
If your company has hired talent remotely during the pandemic, you’ve probably not had a chance to meet and greet them face-to-face yet - at least not outside of a screen! Navigating that first in-person meeting may feel daunting for both parties. To help you out, here are our dos and don’ts for meeting new employees for the first time:
If you’re planning on adopting a hybrid or remote-friendly work model, you’ll need to make sure that your welcome-back-to-work activities and celebrations are inclusive of remote workers and those who aren’t ready to come back to the office just yet. Here are some tips:
It’s also important to continually check in with employees, both office-based and remote, to gauge how successful your hybrid work model is. You should run regular surveys and talk to your employees to find out what is working well and what else you can improve on.
The world of work has changed drastically due to the pandemic, so if your business has adopted a new remote-friendly or hybrid work model, Omnipresent can help you expand your talent pool globally. Afterall, why hire in just one city, when you can tap into over talent in over 150 countries instead!
We make it simple and hassle-free to hire and onboard highly skilled people from across the globe, without the need for your company to set up local entities in each country. If you’d like to find out more or get started, click here to arrange a free consultation with our team.
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