As the effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic begin to recede, certain parts of life are finally returning to what they were like two years ago. For many businesses, that means welcoming more employees back into the office after many months of working from home.
Those preparing to welcome employees back to the office will likely want to make some changes to the workplace to ensure safety and create a productive environment for individuals who have become accustomed to their own work-from-home routines. Offices across every industry have an obligation to create a healthy atmosphere and prioritize the health and wellness of their employees, especially if they want to avoid increasing their turnover rate.
Now, more than ever before, your employees will demand an environment that supports both their mental and physical health.
If you find yourself at a loss for how to welcome people back to the office, here are our top tips to keep things clean, optimistic, and welcoming.
7 Tips to Welcome Employees Into the Office
Prioritizing your employees' health is quite a big commitment. It might take more extended preparation to prepare the office space if you decide to put in a better air filter, get the carpets changed to reduce dust and mold spores, or do any other construction. However, you can do quite a few simpler things shortly before their arrival to create a clean and welcoming space.
1. Make it Sparkly Clean
First, start by prioritizing overall health by giving the office a deep clean. You will likely want to get a cleaning service involved if you want a thorough job done.
Get them to clean the carpets, dust everywhere, and even give the walls a good wash. Having everything very clean will put quite a few people at ease in today's climate. If your office has been empty all this time, this is also essential to clear away dust that could irritate allergies.
2. Create a Green Space Using Living Walls
Making a positive "second" first impression can make all the difference when people come back into the office. One of the most significant visual impacts you can have that continue to have positive mental effects in the future is installing a living wall.
Living walls help your employees feel connected with nature even though they are back inside for work. They also help to improve air quality and give the entire space around them a fresh and more relaxing feeling. In addition, they serve to boost employee morale if they are having trouble adjusting to working in a traditional office.
Installing a living wall requires a minimum amount of construction, making this an easy last-minute addition. Once they have been installed, they are low-maintenance.
You can also include plants in other parts of the office if an entire living wall isn't a possibility, or as an addition to your wall. For example, you can put plants on people's desks or line windows with them. Just be sure that you're choosing plants that won't irritate your employees' allergies.
3. Ensure High Levels of Access to Cleaning Supplies
Another important way to prioritize your employees' health is to ensure they have plenty of access to cleaning supplies.
Place cleaning stations that include things like spray for their desks, hand sanitizer, and tissues. Put them in high traffic spots to ensure their use.
4. Create a Deadline-Free Morning or First Day
The first day back is going to break many of your employees out of their typical schedule. If they have been working at home for a long time, it might be stressful to come back into the office.
If you have the time, consider making the first morning or even the first day back meeting and deadline-free. That way, you give your employees the chance to settle into life back at the office without the stress of finishing an assignment as soon as they sit down in their cubicle.
5. Personalize the Re-entry with Greeting Gifts
A welcome back gift doesn't have to be much, but is a great way to brighten your employees' moods on the first day back in the office.
You can include things that signify that you care or practical things they can use to make their transition back into the office easier.
6. Be Empathetic and Set Aside Time for Feedback
One of the things that the pandemic has proved to us is that mental health and wellness are just as important as physical health. Show your employees that you care about their mental health by curating a space for them to come and talk with you about any problems they face in transitioning back into the office.
You can set up an end-of-the-week meeting for anyone who wants to talk about things that are not working as they move back into the space.
7. Have Fun with "Welcome Back" Activities
Hosting a welcome back activity is an excellent way to remind your employees that there are perks to being in the office. They get to have positive social interactions with those that they work with.
During the pandemic, many of us were so secluded that it became easy to forget what it was like to engage with other people beyond our family members. Therefore, getting together with our work friends gives us the opportunity to get out of the cubicle and the home office and have some fun while building valuable connections!
There are all kinds of welcome back activities you could use to encourage a positive work culture. Some of our top ideas include:
A bonfire night
A Hearty Welcoming
Making your employees feel welcome when they come back into the office is an excellent way to make the transition smoother. While working from home had plenty of perks, many people are ready to get back into the office. They want positive interactions that you can help curate in their work environment.
Using features like living walls gives you a chance to make the space feel healthier and more welcoming than ever before. If you want to learn more about installing a living wall, speak to the experts at Zauben and move towards a healthier workplace for everyone.