Tips for Helping Remote Workers Transition Back to the Office



There’s no doubt COVID-19 has thrown us many curve balls. For employees, one of the biggest challenges has been adjusting to working from home. While this became the new norm for millions of people, some are now facing a fresh challenge: the sudden shift back to the office.


The pandemic continues to rest heavily on our shoulders, with unexpected new strains and waves still occurring around the globe. No doubt, this transition back to an in-person office environment has got many employees feeling anxious and overwhelmed.


Thankfully, there are several things you can do as an employer to make the transition process a smooth one for your staff. Here are our top tips for creating an environment that supports both their mental and physical health.


Be Understanding

One of the best things you can do to ease your employees back into the office environment is lending an ear. Listen to your worker’s needs as they navigate these uncertain times and show them that you have their best interests at heart.


If it’s feasible, you may even consider allowing employees to mix their time spent in the office with days working from home. According to a study by Mercer, 70% of companies have planned to adopt this hybrid model of work. Even if it’s just for the first few weeks, this will help to ease the pressure of settling back into a new routine.


Set and Respect Boundaries

Be sure to give your employees space after work hours and establish cut-off periods for replying to emails or answering phone calls. Employees will find it easier to transition back to the office if they know they can tune-out of work for the day once they get home. It’s an important step toward an effective work-life-balance, and certainly one they’ll appreciate.


Make Any Necessary Office Changes

Before your employees start to flock back to the office, consider what changes can be made to the space. Were there adjustments you always wanted to make, but never found the time previously? Determine if the décor, color palette, or layout can be altered to create a more functional, beautiful, or uplifting space. Some ideas to consider include rearranging the desks so they have a nicer outlook, using living walls to partition off "zones" within an open-plan layout, or updating your current wall art.


Additionally, you might consider what you can do to make the office a more comfortable space. Whether that's implementing softer lighting or incorporating more comfortable seating, these changes can turn a once-sterile office into a place that feels like home.


Encourage Employee Socialization

After being away from the office and their colleagues for so long, it can be a little awkward as workers get used to being in the same room again. As an employer, you can easily get things back in-sync by organizing social events and encouraging interaction.

It could be as simple as shared lunch times or Friday night drinks. Or, if you’re feeling lavish, a “welcome back” party for staff and their families. For many remote workers, their hardest struggle working from home may have been the lack of social interaction. Therefore, a workplace that values a sense of community is necessary now more than ever before.


Remind Workers of Why the Office is a Great Place to Be

Ironically, the most productive and successful workplaces don't have an "all work and no play" attitude. Take companies such as Facebook and Google, for example. Facebook utilizes Fun Friday challenges, including games that "help employees celebrate the upcoming weekend, encourage conversations, or just have fun together". Google, on the other hand, offers free chef-prepared meals, video games, ping pong, and a dog-friendly workspace.


Think about what brings your employees the most joy within your workspace, then aim to do more of this as they find their groove within the office again. It might be casual Fridays, a workplace ping pong tournament, or a "bring your pet to work" day each month. Every workplace is different!