The return to work has been top of mind for organizations, managers, and employees alike. What will it look like? Will employees continue to have the flexibility they gained during the pandemic? How will organizations ensure remote and in-person employees have the same engagement and productivity levels?
In the past, remote work was seen as less productive than being in the office. The pandemic, however, changed that view. According to Mercer, 94% of 800 employers surveyed said “productivity was the same or higher than it was before the pandemic, even with their employees working remotely.”
In fact, remote work has worked so well for companies that some are considering cancelling the office forever. While a fully remote workforce might remove rental costs for companies, it also removes something people leaders have been working years to achieve – human connection.
While it looks like we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, we will not be going back to “normal”. Whatever your return-to-work plan is, it’s essential leaders continue working to keep human connection alive in their organizations. Here are four tips on how to thrive in the new world of work.
1. Understand the challenges.
Each of your unique employees likely has different feelings and concerns regarding the return to work, and all of these are valid. Managers and people leaders should keep this in mind when deciding how to bring their employees back to the office.
Consider setting up individual meetings with each of your employees to gauge their attitude toward the hybrid work model. Some employees may prefer to continue working from home indefinitely, while others may be ready to get back to the sense of normalcy working in the office provides.
The majority will likely fall somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. Taking your employees’ preferences into account is necessary to create an environment where your humans feel safe, respected, and heard during this transition period.
"Employees who trust their organization report experiencing 74% less stress and 40% lower levels of burnout."
2. Embrace transparency and flexibility.
After this initial conversation, continue communicating with your employees. These next few months will consist of many changes, meaning what was comfortable for one employee last week may no longer be the case next week.
Frequent check-ins with employees promotes a sense of trust and transparency. Employees who trust their organizations report experiencing 74% less stress and 40% lower rates of burnout. A culture of trust was essential during the peaks of the pandemic, and people leaders must remember it will be just as important in these next few months.
A continuous performance management platform can create a safe space for employees to communicate, give and receive feedback, and ask questions to their leaders as we move through this transition together.
3. Nurture your culture.
Organizations who make it to the end of this pandemic have one group of people to thank – the humans that made it happen. And while leaders may be waiting until they are back in person to give a formal “thank you” to their employees, they cannot forget about the indispensable employees that may choose to continue working remotely. As we begin transitioning back into the workplace, a sense of comfort and humanity is exactly what employees need, whether working in person or remotely.
Organizations should prepare leaders on what to look for when giving employees recognition during this time. Here are a few examples to look for:
- An employee giving a tour of the office to a new hire that joined the team during the pandemic
- A remote employee jumping on a Zoom meeting to provide insight to a different department during an in-person team meeting
- A hybrid employee adjusting their schedule to attend a rescheduled meeting before an important deadline
4. Celebrate often.
The last year has brought on countless unexpected challenges, making it more important than ever to celebrate both big and small wins. There have been countless moments worthy of celebration we had to celebrate remotely over the past year. During this transition period, we cannot forget to include both remote and in person employees in these future celebrations.
Now is not the time to pull back on celebration – rather it is time to double down. Whether employees are back in the office, remote, or somewhere in between, organizations should empower their humans and continue forging the essential connections that got them through these difficult times.
About the AuthorMore Content by Sarah Bloznalis