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7 Ways to Boost Return-to-Office Culture in Your Employees

Last updated on April 23rd, 2024 at 02:18 pm

When you think of office culture, your mind probably goes to the fun things that happen around the office and how you can encourage those moments. But office culture also includes how employees feel when they return to work after being away. 

The longer employees are out of the office, the more acute their absence is. Therefore, it becomes more important that their return be as comfortable and seamless as possible so that stress doesn’t affect productivity.

As the pandemic dialed down, many companies found their offices were still understaffed and their employees even more exhausted than before. However, a recent report from Kastle Systems shows that October 2022 saw the highest office occupancy post-pandemic, where 47.6% of employees were seen working from the office in the US.

So how do you help them get back in the groove? Here are seven ways:

Create a Welcoming Environment.

One of the first steps in boosting return-to-office culture is to create a welcoming environment. It might mean setting up a welcome desk with snacks, offering free drinks at lunchtime, and providing employees comfortable seating in open spaces where they can have casual conversations.

It’s also important that you communicate openly with your employees about returning to work:

  • what their rights are as far as accommodations go,
  • how much time will be taken off from work once they return,
  • whether or not there are any restrictions on which tasks may be completed at home instead of remotely.

Friday’s Happy Hour Catering

Catering is a great way to bring people together, especially if they work in different departments. The stats from Zippia states that there are over 39,635 caterers in the US. Thus, choosing one that fulfills your office catering requirements won’t be a tough ask.

Make Friday’s Happy Hour an opportunity for your employees to get together and get to know each other better. You’ll find that the relaxed atmosphere can be a good way to get people talking and make them feel comfortable around one another.

You can choose a venue that has an inviting atmosphere; something like an outdoor patio with live music might be perfect. A catering delivery service makes sure the food gets there when it’s supposed to.

Happy hour catering allows employees to relax in an informal setting, which helps them communicate more openly with each other and adjust back to the office environment more easily after spending the weekend at home.

It will allow them to communicate with each other and make friends in the company they are working for. In addition, it allows them to get away from their busy work schedule, which is very important since everyone needs some time off their daily routine to relax and recharge themselves.

Make Sure Safety is a Top Priority.

Ensuring your office is clean, safe, and compliant is a great way to boost the return-to-work culture. Of course, these are things you should be doing anyway, but make sure you’re doing them the right way:

  • Clean up any messes employees may have left behind during their absence. It will help ensure they don’t feel like rushing through their work to clean up after others.
  • Ensure all equipment is working correctly, so there aren’t any surprises when people return from a break.
  • Ensure all employees have received proper training on new equipment or anything else that might have changed since they left for illness/parental leave/etc. Also, update their skill sets by taking advantage of free online courses.
  • Check vaccination records for those returning from overseas travel who may need updated vaccines before starting back at work.

Offer Virtual Support.

Virtual support is a great way to help employees stay connected to their company and each other. It’s also an opportunity for you to communicate with your remote workers in ways that don’t involve them having to sit in an office all day long.

Virtual support can be as simple as a daily video call with coworkers or involve using virtual reality headsets to train new hires on how everything works at the office. Virtual reality has been proven effective in helping people learn about new technology.

You can also use it for more mundane things like training employees on new processes or learning about company culture before returning from maternity leave.

A report from Research.com states that 23% of corporations prefer using virtual reality to train their employees. At the same time, 9% use artificial intelligence, while 11% use augmented reality for training purposes.

Remind Employees of Responsibilities and Policies.

You must remind your employees about their responsibilities, what is expected of them in the office, and any policies that may affect their return to work. For example, if there are any restrictions on travel or when they can be away from the office, make sure that your team knows about these ahead of time. 

It will ensure that they don’t miss out on important meetings or deadlines because they’re traveling during an off-limits window.

Encourage Open Communication.

You want your employees to feel comfortable talking about the things that matter most. So, provide them with a safe space to share their feelings and concerns. It will help you gain insight into what’s working and what isn’t, so you can make improvements as needed.

Encourage your employees to share their needs regularly and what they are grateful for, and don’t forget to listen.

Plan a Team-Building Activity.

When people are in the same room, they can get to know each other better. The more they know about each other, the more comfortable they feel working together. Team-building activities also let employees learn to work together effectively as a team by communicating with each other.

Team-building activities are fun, entertaining, and often competitive, so your employees will have fun while learning valuable skills simultaneously.

Create Your Return-To-Office Culture Smooth

A clear plan is essential to ensure a smooth return-to-office experience. In addition, you need to be prepared for any questions your employees might have about their RTO procedures and any potential issues that may arise.

Make sure you plan what to do if something goes wrong. For example, if an employee has trouble returning from vacation on time, you should handle it professionally. 

It should be done without causing undue stress or inconvenience to anyone involved. A good return-to-office culture should make everyone feel supported and appreciated, not put out by the bureaucracy.

Make sure you have a plan for what happens when everything goes right. For example, if an employee does manage to make their flight home on time or get home safely after being stranded at the airport due to weather problems, your response should be equally satisfying. 

A great work/life balance means recognizing the achievements of both personal and professional goals during this transition period between working and home life.

Ultimately, a return-to-work culture can be a powerful tool in your business. It not only helps you retain employees but also provides them with a sense of belonging and camaraderie that they will carry with them for years to come. It also shows that, as a company, you care about their well-being, ultimately making them more loyal to your brand.

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