Transitioning back to the office after an extended period of remote or hybrid working is challenging from both ends. It’s difficult for the workers who will likely have adjusted to new routines working from home. It’s tough for the managers who might expect things to go back to the way they were before the remote work started.
Maintaining a company culture post-pandemic can be hard, but it’s also an opportunity. Here are some tips on how to make the transition back to the office more successful, while retaining and adapting your company culture for the better.
Accept That Things May Be Strange for a While
Working from home or under a hybrid model has likely become the “new normal” for many of your employees. Some workers probably thrived under the new model, while others function better under the hectic team atmosphere at the office.
Everyone will have adjusted to new ways of doing things. Tempers might be short. Some people will have even gone through personality changes.
People completely reordered their daily work routines while at home, and now they are being asked to reorder everything again. Acknowledge that things will be strange as everyone adjusts back to office culture.
Focus on Clear Communication
Being ambiguous about expectations is not going to do anyone good when transitioning back to the office. Employees and managers are going to have questions about moving forward, so keep lines of communication open in both directions. Even if you don’t have an immediate answer to every question, it can be reassuring to employees that they know their concerns are being heard and considered. Write out expectations so that everyone is on the same page and treated equally.
Transparency and openness should start from the top and trickle down to managers and employees. This is important for preserving workplace culture and re-establishing trust. One example of clear communication is to let your people know when performance evaluations will begin again, with a list of items that they will be evaluated on.
Be Flexible about Office Re-Entry
This transition will probably require more flexibility than most company owners are accustomed to. Workplace processes, meetings, and everything else about the typical workday may have changed during the pandemic, and now you need to figure out how to do some things all over again. This doesn’t mean you have to completely reorder how things are done. Simply be flexible with employees.
Who knows? The adjustments that your employees made working from home might actually point the way to new methods of streamlining work processes and making them more efficient. If you let some things unfold, you might be surprised at possible improvements that can be made.
Asking employees direct questions during this time is a great way to learn about their expectations about re-entry. Let them know that the office culture that used to exist is going to be different going forward and that you value their input. Ask about their experiences when working from home and whether they want to keep some of those new routines, and think about how those expectations can be accommodated.
What have they missed about working at the office? What have they learned while working at home? Why have they decided to continue with your company instead of searching for a job elsewhere?
If return-to-work decisions are made in a top-down manner based on your own assumptions, it can cause a rift with employees. Your interests are probably not going to be perfectly aligned with their expectations, so be open to compromise in certain areas.
Help Employees Reconnect with Office Culture
The most important asset at any company is always the employees. In many ways, they are the ones who will be guiding and creating your office culture. It’s not all about snacks in the break room or how you conduct meetings. Company culture is really about how employees relate to one another and to the business.
Transitioning back to the office should be an opportunity for everyone to grow. Think of ways to help employees reconnect in both formal and informal settings. As they reestablish office relationships with one another, a company culture will start to naturally emerge.
ASAP Payroll’s culture insights and expert solutions can help you enjoy a smoother transition back to the office. Maintaining and nurturing company culture is extremely important during this period, and our offerings can help guide your company back to where you want it to be. Explore everything we have to offer and let us know how we can help.