Before the Coronavirus pandemic, employees were not required to answer any questions or fill out any surveys before going to work. Things were much simpler when there was a potluck, company events, and conversations at the water cooler. Many organizations have shut their doors since the dawn of the pandemic, based on the nature of the virus and how it is transmitted.
Lately, some organizations have decided to reopen but under strict protocols for every employee to adhere to and practice. Have you considered a return to work survey or a return to work questionnaire? If you are mulling over reopening your workplace, you must gather information from your employees on crucial topics such as personal needs and understanding of safety procedures.
Reopening the workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic is a risk and can present several problems. Even though safety and logistics are at the forefront of managers’ and business owners’ minds, the opinions of employees are just as important.
You can’t not recognize that these feelings and sentiments can shape how or if your doors can reopen and stay open. Employees’ concerns may vary but everyone is concerned about the availability of childcare, exposure to the virus, personal stressors, and issues that may influence the perspective of employees regarding returning to the office.
Why Use a Return to Work Survey?
Implementing a return to work survey may be a great idea to explore. It can provide insights into understanding what you need to prioritize, how you can cater to employees’ mental state, how you can reassure them and how they feel about returning to work. It can showcase areas where employees have reservations.
What you do with the information you have obtained can determine if you reopen your doors, if you hire new people, or even if you bring in temporary workers or promote employees to fill new spaces.
As a manager or business owner, you also need to understand how to motivate employees to return to the workplace. Whether it is because they have gotten comfortable with their work from home model or something else, they may be disappointed by the decision of reopening.
Regardless of the reasons, you can use a return to office questionnaire or return to work survey to measure the capability of your workforce to return to the office before opening your doors and finding out the hard way that you have made a terrible mistake. A lot goes into returning to in-office work, and for multiple reasons, you cannot forget any of it. The answers for the return to office survey questions can help to uncover the exact feelings of employees regarding the process.
Considerations for Employees as They Return to the Office
While business owners and leaders may be ready to charge ahead with the post-COVID-19 work agenda, it does not work that way. As leaders, you must be mindful when you have decided to bring employees back into the workplace.
There must be a level of understanding that you all have had to face the Covid-19 pandemic, and everyone may have had a different experience and can exist in a unique situation. Here are some factors to consider as your employees return to the office post-COVID. You can take those considerations into your return employee survey.
Obliging Personal Responsibilities
Many employees may be delighted to be back at the office. On the other hand, some may be concerned about their responsibilities and affairs. With some schools and daycares still being closed, households, where both parents are earners and single-parent households, are in shambles trying to find childcare options for their children.
For those employees with elderly parents who may live with them, the plight is the same. Even before the pandemic when things were still normal, finding elderly care and childcare was sometimes hard, but now, it is extremely difficult to even find anything of that nature.
As managers, you must be considerate, empathetic, and open to listening to the concerns of your employees. You can even try exploring solutions that fit both the employee’s and the organization’s needs. Discussing the situation with the employee and allowing for a collaborative approach to finding the solution could work wonders.
Adapting to a New Work Environment
Though employees are back in the office, it does not mean things can work the same as they were before the pandemic changed things. There are now precautions in place. Employees are now required to wear a mask. You need not concern yourself with the debate of graphene face mask vs normal mask, as that can be left up to the staff members.
The environment should have socially distanced workstations, staggered work schedules, distance markers on the floor, “no entry without a face mask for Covid-19” signs, and even closed coffee bars. The last one may be met with resistance, but health takes precedence.
Ensure you educate employees on why these changes were made and why they need to practice and obey the precautions. You need to conduct a return to work survey. To this end, you may want to emphasize the fact that these very precautions can help to keep them safe and healthy so they can return to their families at the end of the day.
Making Health and Safety a Priority in the Office
As a manager, you might be aware that many of your employees have underlying health complications and conditions that may increase their risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus. Therefore, reopening may spike concerns and nervousness among some, and others may be reluctant to come back. It is a prior issue to put into your return to work questionnaire.
With matters of this nature, a manager should be aware of and sensitive to the team’s needs and worries during such a trying time. That is another reason why you should ensure you create a safe office space for all. Explore all options to protect your employees, even if that means delaying your re-entry for at-risk employees to minimize their exposure.
Readjusting to Office Life
A hybrid work model that includes remote work has been a welcome change for many employees. For those persons, going back to work signifies a long commute, less time with family, less flexibility in how they work, and a loss of control over work affairs. You must take the time to listen to your employees’ concerns. Try to be flexible while being clear in your communication of expectations.
Questions for the COVID-19 Employee Return to Work
Just as the transition to remote work took some doing initially, the transition back to the offices requires a strong change management plan with a new return-to-work plan. When the coronavirus pandemic hit, managers had to act quickly to adapt, which allowed them to adjust and conceptualize an action plan.
However, this time around, as employees return to the workplace the advantage of time is with you, so make the most of it. A return to office questionnaire is a great place to start. Thoughtful questions and attentive listening must be constant practices during this time, as employees need to know if they can trust their managers and leaders. You cannot drop the ball when it comes to making everyone feel safe and supported during the office return.
Your return to work survey can have several sections if you wish. Each one should have a purpose in healing you to understand where each person is mentally where the return is concerned. Questions can be geared towards how the employee feels, their remote work performance, their health status, and safety requirements. Here are some sample questions for your return to work survey:
1. How comfortable do you feel returning to work in the office?
2. Are you nervous or anxious about returning to work while the threat of the COVID-19 virus is still strong?
3. Do you feel connected to your team while working from home?
4. Are you in a healthy state to return to work at the office?
5. Are you open to taking the COVID-19 return to work testing before returning to the workplace?
6. Do you prefer to continue working from home?
7. Using a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being the best possible rating), how would you rate the communication process between you and your manager, while you have been working from home?
8. Is your commute to work one of your chief concerns about returning to work?
9. Are you willing to wear a face mask?
10. Using the options below please indicate which of the following safety measures influence your confidence in returning to the office
a) Hand sanitizer provided
b) Frequent and daily cleaning of premises
c) Temperature checks upon arrival at work
d) Graphene antiviral mask or another face mask for Covid-19 provided
e) Social distancing floor markers
f) One-way walking systems
g) Strict social distancing (limited persons for meeting rooms, restricted access and staggered shift patterns)
Would you notify us if you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for covid-19 or have otherwise been exposed to a high-risk of Covid-19?
Were you ever diagnosed with the Covid-19 virus while you were away from work?
Are there any additional concerns about returning to work? If so, please feel free to share what they are: ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________
How has your productivity changed, if at all, since working from home?
What do you think contributes most to your response to question 14 above?
Do you feel confident that the organization can manage the return to work initiative well?
Do you feel that you have safe mediums to express your concerns regarding returning to work?
As the organization prepares to return to work, do you feel confident that you are going to be able to attend to your responsibilities?
Are you confident that your organization can take the appropriate measures to keep employees safe as best as possible when you return to work?
Are you confident the leaders and managers of the organization are going to take your concerns and inputs in designing the return to work process?
How do you feel about your long-term future in the organization?
Do you have any underlying conditions that the organization is not aware of?
Can you be flexible in your start, break, and finish times to consider social distancing and limiting the number of persons at work at a single time?
If your answer to question 24 is yes, indicate which of the following you are willing to exercise flexibility in? Indicate all that apply.
a) Coming in early
b) Coming in late
c) Taking an early lunchtime
d) Taking a late lunchtime
e) Working from home for parts of the week
f) Working from on home temporarily
Which of the following would make you more comfortable returning to work? Indicate all that apply.
a) Boxed lunches instead of buffet-styles
b) Government authorization saying it is okay to return to work
c) Installing partitions between desks
d) Implementation of a clean desk policy
e) Limiting outside visitors
f) Closing communal spaces, such the gym and game room
g) Hand sanitizer station or hand washing stations
h) Nothing would make me feel comfortable returning to work
i) Something else (specify): ______________________________________________________
Do you feel informed and updated about the goals and priorities of the organization while working from home?
The questions in your back to office survey should be strategically designed to help you as a manager or business owner plan for re-entry. In asking employees the right questions, you can make informed decisions that can help keep staff members feeling safe and heard, during the return to office process. The questions also display how empathic you are to your employee’s needs, worries, and concerns and how you can reassure them as the organization moves forward.
When designing your return to office survey questions, ensure you ask appropriate questions that quantify your concerns as a manager or business owner. Your return employee survey does not have to be too long to give you an in-depth understanding of the unique needs and circumstances of your employees. Some employees may have worked from home and others may have been on a leave of absence. You need to understand how to help everyone transition back into the office or if you need to implement a flexible working model, or maintain your existing one.
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