How to have a safe back to office in the “new normal”?

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“…in some companies it is time to return to the office and this can lead to people interpreting it in a positive way and others seeing it as a fear or a challenge.’

Some companies were already transitioning from working in an office to give some days of home office before this crisis arrived. However, during the state of alarm because of the covid-19 pandemic, this had to be established on a mandatory basis in most companies and now it seems that it has come to stay.

It is known that teleworking can provide an improvement in productivity and personal life of workers. However, in some companies the return to the office has arrived and this can lead to people interpreting it positively and others seeing it with fear or even as a challenge. 

How can we return to the office after so many emotional ups and downs? Here are some tips to help you get back to the office after several months of working remotely:

1. Make it a safe space

Due to the ‘new normality’ the offices will have to opt for a safe place, respecting a minimum safety distance between workers and in the common areas as well. 

A progressive and reliable incorporation must be guaranteed. For example, by opting for working from home hours alternated with office working hours. For this gradual incorporation, the days and shifts of employees can be alternated. This will avoid crowding in the office and on the transport route and possible ‘fears’ or ‘stress’ of a sudden return to work.

‘…a better office environment must be created, which motivates them and in some way ensures good physical and emotional health’.

2. Give more flexible and personal working environment

We are going through an exceptional situation which is implying changes in the working environment. For the good development and adaptation of the employee, it is essential that policies are flexible with them. As well as considering the possibility of creating a better office environment, which motivates them and in some way ensures good physical and emotional health

3. Learn more about your employees

Perhaps it is time that managers learn more about the people who work in the company. Knowing their values, interests and motivations can be an opportunity to improve the organisation and make a good return to the office. Keep experimenting on what is best for my team. 

Sometimes the balance between personal and professional life is not about giving more free time, sometimes you need individual space for employees to be themselves and to show their creativity. This is why communication and satisfaction of the relational needs between managers and the team are necessary.

4. Meeting with colleagues

If during these months our office has been our home and relations with colleagues have been virtual, reconnecting with colleagues will make us disconnect from these months of routine. Having that feeling of leaving our usual workplace and reconnecting with people with whom we may share more interests and experiences beyond work will improve our efficiency and our emotional state.

5. Fostering a culture of trust

According to Adam Grant, an organisational psychologist, this is a time for managers to seize the opportunity and give their employees more control and hopefully discover that they can be trusted to manage their own schedules‘. 

For Adam, this is a way to start creating trusting environments and not ‘my boss said this‘. It’s time to start the pace of work and personal life, to be interested in personal and professional development beyond technical training and formation.

Organisations with a greater culture of trust are considered to be those where leaders are more emotionally connected to the employee. Those in which the manager finds balance on a personal level in each of their employees.

Starting to promote this type of culture is a competitive advantage over those organisations that do not do it.

If we put all these recommendations together we can make the return to the ‘new normal’ in the office less stressful and more enjoyable. In addition, it is recommended that we learn more about the needs of the employee on a personal level and create an atmosphere of trust and security in the company.

At Erudit we want to help you taking care of your workers in these challenging times, monitoring their levels of motivation, burn out, stress and anxiety (without the need of applying a single survey) and finding ways to maintain a healthy and productive team of collaborators.

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