Friday, February 17th 2023

Return to Office Programs, 5 Mistakes to Avoid

passive listening solutions

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, HR professionals are facing new challenges when it comes to implementing return-to-the-office programs. While some organizations are returning to a fully in-office model, others are opting for a hybrid approach with some employees continuing to work from home on a part-time or full-time basis. Regardless of the approach, HR professionals must navigate a complex set of issues in order to ensure a smooth and successful transition back to the office.

One of the major challenges for HR professionals implementing return to the office programs is managing employee expectations and concerns. Many employees have grown accustomed to the flexibility and convenience of working from home and may be resistant to returning to a more traditional work environment. Additionally, employees may have concerns about the safety of themselves or their family members if they are more susceptible to health problems that can be transmitted in the workplace.

Another challenge is ensuring that employees have the necessary resources and support to succeed in the new hybrid work environment. This may include providing employees with the necessary equipment and technology to work effectively from home or the office, as well as training and support to help them adapt to the new way of working.

HR professionals must also be mindful of the impact that the transition back to the office may have on employee morale and engagement. It is important to regularly check in with employees and gather feedback to ensure that they are feeling supported and valued as the organization makes this transition. To ensure a smooth and successful transition back to the office, HR professionals should look to avoid these five common mistakes:

Five Return-to-Work Mistakes to Avoid

  • Failing to consider the voice of the employee: HR teams should actively solicit and consider feedback from employees about their concerns and preferences regarding returning to the office. Failure to do so may lead to low employee engagement and morale, and may harm the workplace culture. Combining active surveys with passive listening solutions can help HR teams stay top of the changes in employee sentiment.
  • Ignoring remote work arrangements: Many employees have grown accustomed to working remotely and may prefer to continue doing so even after offices reopen. HR teams should be sensitive to these preferences and consider offering flexible work arrangements.
  • Not addressing safety concerns: The safety and well-being of employees should be a top priority for HR teams when planning a return to the office. Failing to address concerns about social distancing, sanitation, and other safety measures may lead to low employee morale and a lack of trust in the organization. HR teams need to understand that while some employees are ready to go back to the way things were, the last few years have raised true concerns from others that cannot be ignored.
  • Neglecting the employee experience: HR teams should strive to create a positive employee experience when returning to the office. This includes providing amenities, fostering a sense of community, and promoting a culture of respect and inclusivity. Companies spend years building their organizational culture and rebuilding that sense of community can reemphasize to employees the benefits of being back together again. 
  • Lack of communication: HR teams should ensure that they are providing clear and regular communication to employees about the return to the office plan, why it is important to the company, when it may be applied differently to different people and the positive aspects of connecting together in the office again. A lack of communication can lead to confusion and mistrust, which can negatively impact employee engagement and morale.

HR professionals face a range of challenges when implementing return to the office programs post-COVID. Since the shift to remote work was such a historically unique situation, most teams don’t have an established playbook for handling a return to the office. By avoiding some of the most common mistakes and taking a proactive and employee-centered approach, HR professionals can ensure the most smooth and successful transition back to the office.

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