Adapting the office to welcome back employees after Covid-19

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Returning to work after over a year of remote work (due to pandemic restrictions) may feel a little strange for some employees.

The WFH life has brought us many perks such as – later wake up times, wearing our most comfortable clothes, working in the garden in the sun, spending lunchbreaks on the sofa, fitting in a little exercise, and seeing more of our friends and family.

But if your organization is planning on returning to the office, how can you bring your employees back without affecting morale?

While some people miss the sociability of work, there have been a lot of benefits to WFH.

These are the top things to consider.

Equipment

The shift to remote work was sudden and necessary, and many of us got by with a laptop, desk, and a chair.

But what equipment do you need to head back to the office? It will all depend on what your organization’s plans are.

If you’re 100% returning to the office full time, then the “old” normal will likely resume. If you’re implementing a hybrid “work from anywhere” approach, this may complicate things.

Did employees take their office chair home? You may need to invest in more chairs to allow for greater flexibility between working locations.

If part of the team will be home and another part of the team is in work, does the in-office team need access to webcams for video calls?

Some employees may have taken their monitors home to enhance their home office experience, so you will need to consider whether investing in desktop equipment is necessary also.

Working hours

Working from home gave everyone more flexibility. Whether it was an early start in replacement of a morning commute or working split work shifts to support family needs, the traditional 9-5 routine has transformed for many people.

With a shift to work from anywhere, does flexible working hours still make sense? Maybe it doesn’t quite go far enough?

For example, office-based workers may want to work remotely for the first and last hour of the day to avoid rush hour traffic.

This would support collaboration and social connectivity, while saving employees some of the stress that comes with rush-hour commuting.

But if your team is made up of both office workers and remote workers, there needs to be an overlap to ensure communication is possible.

Dress code

If your office dress code was previously relaxed, there probably isn’t too much to consider.

But after a year of Zoom calls in our leisurewear, it’s going to be tough for those who have to fit back into more formal business attire.

Not only is office attire more expensive, it can often time take longer to choose an outfit every morning. These clothes are also restrictive and less comfortable – which could all affect morale and restrict comfort while working.

So if your employees were once encouraged to dress in traditional office attire, you may want to rethink whether this is more important than a more relaxed, comfortable, and enjoyable employee experience.

Office layout

If employees have proven they can work remotely, then the main benefit of office-based work is collaboration and connection.

Therefore, it may be worth considering updating the layout of your office – particularly if you’re adopting a more hybrid ‘work from anywhere’ approach.

More meeting rooms and informal collaboration spaces (such as booths) will encourage more connectivity from employees when they are in office. Shared workspaces can help consolidate the amount of physical space needed to individually accommodate employees. In turn, it can help reduce costs, maximize available workspace, and encourage better use of overall office space.

Get feedback from your employees

Whether you’re returning full time or considering a hybrid approach, don’t make the big decisions without consulting your workforce.

Your employees are your brand ambassadors, so it pays big to have them on board with what you’re doing.

Find out what they’re thinking with our survey about working from home and returning to work after the pandemic.

  • 25 professionally designed questions
  • Covers remote working and returning to the workplace
  • One-click dynamic reporting
  • Offers top line and granular level insights
  • Ready to run straight out of the box

You can get the 2021 Workplace Survey today for free!