CEO of National Business Capital, the leading fintech marketplace offering streamlined small business loans.
The summer of 2021 looks very different from the summer of 2020. While the pandemic continues and life isn’t entirely back to normal, a sense of normalcy is slowly starting to return. With much of the world continuing to reopen and mask mandates lifting in many settings, some businesses are thinking about bringing their employees back to the office.
Remote work has its advantages, but it’s hard to beat the energy and camaraderie that comes with having everyone in the office. And there are many ways to bring employees back while still following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) guidelines and keeping everyone safe.
But some business owners are finding that it’s not so easy to bring employees back after more than a year of working from home. There’s no clear road map to follow, and some employees may resist letting go of the work-from-home lifestyle.
If you find yourself in this situation, let’s look at a few steps you can take to bring your employees back. That way, you can get everyone back to the office and back to life.
Focus On Company Culture
For many businesses, company culture took a backseat over the past year. And that’s understandable — people just did the best they could to adapt to changing conditions.
But as life starts to return to normal in many ways, there’s never been a better time to focus on company culture. For some companies, this means reclaiming the values that defined the company before the pandemic.
For others, it means creating an entirely new company culture. You may also need to identify and change unhealthy aspects of your current company culture.
At our company, employees had the option to work from home but wanted to return to the office. This is a testament to our company culture.
To learn more about building a strong company culture, I would encourage you to read Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh. Both our company and the culture we’ve built stem from many of the insights in that book.
Improve Your Work Environment
Before Covid-19 happened, many people spent just as many of their waking hours in the office as they did at home. So, ask yourself honestly: Did you have a fun work environment before the pandemic? Is your office an innovative and engaging place to be? If a stranger walked into your office, would they enjoy being there? If the answer to these questions is “no,” this may be why your employees don’t want to return to work.
You’ve probably already thought through ways to keep everyone safe in the office. You’ve thought about necessary cleaning procedures and how to keep everyone physically distanced.
But I would encourage you to spend just as much time imagining how to make your office a more enjoyable place to work. Try to make your office a place where employees want to spend their time.
Communicate With Employees
CultureX reviewed 1.4 million employee reviews on Glassdoor to determine what values define businesses with great company culture. The companies with the strongest cultures are known as Culture 500 companies.
And what the researchers found is that companies that had a great company culture before the pandemic actually strengthened it during the pandemic. And they did this primarily by being transparent and communicating with their employees.
I can’t overstate the importance of communicating with your employees. You need to let your employees know where the company currently is and where it’s going.
It’s natural to want to hide setbacks or bad news from your employees to avoid discouraging them. But when you share these problems with your team, it actually gives them more confidence in the company and you as a leader.
Plus, when you’re transparent with your employees, it gives them a reason to invest in rebuilding company culture as well.
Encourage Everyone To Focus On Their Health
If there’s one thing Covid-19 has taught people, it’s that health matters. A study of global employees found that 42% of respondents experienced declining mental health during the pandemic.
So business owners need to look for ways to support employees in pursuing both mental and physical health. And don’t just pay lip service to the importance of focusing on your health — you need to model this behavior for your employees.
Build in policies that make it easier for employees to focus on their physical and mental well-being. For instance, in our office, we have daily exercise breaks and mental breaks to help our employees regain their clarity and focus.
Prepare For Changes And Stay Flexible
As a leader and business owner, you need to focus on supporting your team and helping them get back into the flow of office life. But some employees will not be ready to return to business as usual, and that’s OK.
Financial companies may find that it’s best to start with a hybrid workforce and slowly transition to bringing employees back full time. You might transition by having employees back in the office just one or two days per week.
Once your employees start coming to the office occasionally, they might find they enjoy having face-to-face contact with other employees. It’s hard to re-create those in-person connections over Zoom. Over time, even the most hesitant employees may realize that they enjoy being in the office more than working from home.
The point is, be willing to be flexible and make changes wherever necessary. Your goal may be to bring everyone back on-site, but it could take time to get there. When you focus on rebuilding company culture and communicating with employees, your organization will continue to move forward.
Read the original version of the article on Forbes.Last Updated on September 17, 2021
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