More and more countries move to herd immunity and are about to continue their transition toward normalcy after the wave of Delta-driven cases goes down. And with the growing number of vaccinated people, it seems like businesses got obsessed with the notion of getting back to the office (count our mobile app consulting firm in). At least I see this topic covered in every single media for entrepreneurs.
But with all those calculations about business effectiveness and employee productivity, it’s easy to forget about things like team climate, leadership, and retention. In this blog post, I’d like to share five insights to help you get your team back to the office smoothly.
1. Forget About The Pre-Pandemic Ways Your Company Worked
In the very idea of getting BACK to the office, we all might have expectations that things will become just like they were once upon a time. Especially if your team always worked in the office before the COVID hit the world.
Because of that, getting back to the office today is more about inventing a new culture of staying connected for your team rather than organizing a physical space for collaboration.
2. Find Out Your Team’s Expectations and Desires
I could also throw a dozen surveys showing how people changed their expectations regarding office work during the pandemic. But those stats don’t mean anything; for you, your team is what should matter most.
It can quickly turn out that your team doesn’t need a dedicated office and is ready to collaborate in the coworking space. Or vice versa. Or, like in our case, you will have all kinds of people: some wanting to visit the office occasionally, others – to work there five days per week, and the rest preferring to stay at home at all times. (Now imagine selecting the right size of office to allow that.)
Now I’m talking about that not because I’m the VP of HR in the EGO outsource web development company, and it’s my duty to care about people here. It’s because the surveys mentioned above show up to 39% of employees are ready to change their places of work if their expectations regarding the work approach won’t be met. And in most cases, this is not even about your company: the vast majority of people simply enjoy the idea of not having to commute every day.
So listening to your people is crucial if you don’t want to lose up to a third of your team on your way back to the office.
3. Get Ready to Experiment and Be Proactive
Although people’s expectations are important, it doesn’t mean that they are actually true.
One can expect the rise of their productivity in the office filled with other people, only to find out later that the reason for their lack of motivation was lying somewhere else.
Another person might not consider the fear of missing out when working from home, while others started meeting in the office, sharing their meals, and having a light offline banter every day.
So don’t expect to decide once and for all the way the team will work after getting back to the office. You’ll need to keep an eye on your people’s satisfaction, experiment with changing the schedules, and probably take regular surveys about the things you’ve changed.
4. Be Attentive to Your Employees’ Feelings
COVID made many of us more introverted, and our company’s app consultants are no exception. The constant fear of catching the virus outside, losing the job, or having no means to strive financially changed the way we deal with reality. Some report depression symptoms; others find themselves anxious most of the time. And I’m not talking about the actual toll the COVID takes on physical health.
Getting back to the office is another change and uncertainty that can make one nervous and fearful—especially considering that some practices may be further changed (see the previous point about experimenting). And if before the pandemic you could expect your employees to take care of themselves – do sports, sleep better, or visit a therapist, – today some of them will be thankful for your support and assistance with that.
In the end, adapting to the new way of working is always a challenge. Consider introducing a re-onboarding routine, talking to the employees soon after the office opens, and being sure they clearly understand the expectations imposed by this change.
5. And You – Stay Positive
I know that heading may sound dull, but considering the factors above, it's easy to catch anxiety about the whole process of getting back to the office. What should you focus on first? How to pay enough attention to your members? Which things to experiment on first?
Doesn't entrepreneurship bring enough uncertainty every day already?
One of the ways to cope with stress is maintaining a sense of humor and staying positive. Avoid blunt criticism, introduce regular team-building events in the office, and promote small talks, and soon you'll notice positive changes in your team’s productivity.
In the case of the EGO cross-platform mobile app development company, we plan to reinstate our joint Friday breakfasts: that’s one thing that will motivate people to get to the office for more than just doing their work and let them feel more secure in the company.
When deciding on the working schedule, most companies will stick with the hybrid model from what I see on the market. In other words, at least a part of your team will visit the office only 2-4 days per week. Some people will do that on certain days every week, and others will prefer a flexible schedule. Agreeing with that will be your best retention strategy.
But because of that, your goals will include supporting emotional balance in the team, helping your managers to adapt to a new mixed reality of offline\online interaction, and building the processes inside your office – whether we're talking about business meetings or team-building events – in a way that will always allow people to take part in them virtually if needed.
Keep those three things in mind, and your team will strive for success despite any upcoming market disruptions.