Aug 11, 2021
As COVID cases decrease in the U.S. and vaccinations increase, companies across the nation have brought their employees back to office buildings. Many of these workers have concerns regarding the safety of shared spaces as restrictions are lifted and viral variants spread. They also wonder about details such as if businesses can require all employees to be vaccinated, and what office and building features help to minimize risk.
Just as it was necessary as entire teams grappled with becoming remote employees and many other complex realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, finding ways to help employees feel comfortable after returning to the office is paramount to a successful transition. Here are a few vital considerations that employers will need to address as they experience these transitions.
Employers can start with one critical step to ensure that employees feel as secure as possible when returning to the office: they can listen. Hearing what is most fitting to employees as they navigate the continued impact of the COVID-19 crisis—both in the context of both their professional and personal lives—can help employers make decisions that will resonate with everyone and ultimately make transitions more successful.
This isn’t just a good idea. It is a strategy backed by neuroscience. In a recent interview with SHRM Online, Victoria Grady, faculty at George Mason University School of Business, she explains how giving employees a sense of agency can make it easier to adapt to change.
“If you give people the ability to have input, buy-in, and power over the change, they tend to embrace that change with a lot more willingness and commitment than those without that input,” explains Grady. “In organizations, this could look like giving employees a choice of where and how to work.”
Developing a plan of action to address employee concerns around safety can go a long way to make employees more at ease with reporting to an office space. Before COVID, many employers offered in-office “perks” like fully-stocked kitchens, open floor plans, game-quipped break rooms, and free yoga classes. While these features were meant to make the office feel more social and appealing, they may feel a little unimportant, if not unsafe, in light of today’s realities.
A few ways to update the office to minimize the spread of COVID and general transmission of germs and viruses:
Beyond general safety precautions, make sure employees can fully reap some of the personal and practical benefits of returning to the office.
So many of us continue to face challenging situations and changes—both at work and home. So, an essential part of making employees more comfortable is to meet them where they are and support them where you can.
At the end of the day, it is challenging but not impossible to re-introduce your organization to office life in a way that ensures both organizational and employee success. Having a partner like Milner in your corner can ensure that you have time to build a plan that will work best for your team. To find out how we can support your goals, contact us today.