Re-opening an office after a period of closure is no easy feat under any circumstance, but the world we currently live in has certainly piled on the complications. COVID-19 has changed everything about the way businesses and their employees interact, and as things begin to change with offices ready to welcome back staff on a more regular basis, managers should be careful not to make any of the following, as each can be a return to office plan mistake.
1. Lack of Communication
First reopen office mistake is the miscommunication. If remote working has taught the business world anything, it is that communication is key. Arguably the worst return to office plan mistake when re-opening an office is failing to effectively inform your staff of what to expect. Keeping your employees up to date helps reassure them and make the transition easier.
2. Not Asking for Feedback or Acting on It
Presuming to know what is best for the people who work for you is never a good way to manage and is likely to be more detrimental than ever in the current climate. Asking for feedback makes staff feel valued and measures employee engagement when everyone is back in action.
3. Making Too Many Changes, Too Quickly
Change is inevitable for your back-to-office re-launch, but it must be measured and gradual. Too much is undoubtedly a back to office mistake. Whether you inform employees of the changes they should expect slowly in the run-up to opening or you implement the non-mandatory changes in stages as people return, the idea is not to overwhelm people with too much, too fast.
4. Opting for Convenient Quick Solutions Rather than What’s Best for the Long-Term
In times of uncertainty, the ‘quick fix’ can seem like the right thing to do, but as the name suggests, this is not a permanent solution. If you hastily throw together a back-to-office plan that suits your immediate needs but is not sustainable, further changes down the line could demotivate your employees and affect the level of staff engagement you have built up until then.
5. Not Spreading Your Focus and Attention Fairly Across All Departments
It is one of the most detrimental return to office plan mistakes. Every person you have working for you, regardless of title, is experiencing the same change and as such deserves the same level of attention and performance recognition from you as a manager. If you spend more time and effort on one group of employees, others may feel neglected, and you could face resistance to the changes you want to make.
6. Not Being Consistently Involved
One of the biggest back-to-office mistakes across the board is inconsistent involvement from management. In times of change in a business, the presence and involvement of management reassure employees that a guiding force is there to answer questions and lead the way.
If you are dedicated and hands-on at first then disappear entirely, then come back and involve yourself again when you have the time, this only adds to unrest among staff. Decide what level of involvement you can commit to for the duration of the transition period.
7. Failing to Properly Motivate Staff for the Re-start
There is likely to be hesitation amongst some about returning to an office environment. It is a common reopen office mistake. Not addressing it constitutes a problem if you wish to reopen the office. A return to office plan mistake might seem like a strong word, but you would be making one to ignore it.
People may have become comfortable working from home and are not excited to return to the old routine, so finding effective ways to motivate staff is vital for a smooth return to office rollout.
8. Not Having the Premises Full Prepared and Looking Good
The office has been left unused for some time and may not be in fighting shape anymore, so don’t let yourself get caught in a bind at the last minute. If the office is unfit for staff to return to, productivity is likely to be low, so order everything you need in advance with a bulk office furniture order. Maybe even throw in a few upgrades here and there, for example, new desk chairs, to really give staff morale a boost.
You almost must implement any restrictions or health and safety precautions recommended for an office workspace before anybody returns to work. Establish clear rules and expectations before re-opening the doors.
9. Not Allowing for Flexibility
Opening your office up again after COVID-19 is not the same as any rollout you may have experienced before. You must be prepared for staff to be apprehensive about returning to a busy work environment for their health and the health of more vulnerable people they may be close to. Ignoring these fears and refusing to accommodate where possible could be a fatal flaw as a manager.
Looking to find a flexible new way of working like a hybrid environment is something many business owners are doing right now, especially after learning to appreciate the value of online communication and business platforms. You may find a more modern and digital way to work with certain staff members, which can be more than just a solution to a problem; it could be a genuine asset to your company.
10. Assuming Everything Can Go Back to Normal
The word ‘normal’ has an entirely different meaning as we emerge from an unprecedented global pandemic. It is both foolish and irresponsible to expect everything in your place of work to flow the same way it did before it all came to a grinding halt.
As a manager, it is your responsibility to lead the way into the new and improved office environment you have prepared and to acknowledge that things are not the same. Trying to deny change is happening only makes it harder to accept, and you are likely to face challenges of this nature as you execute your back-to-office plan.
To avoid making any of these 10 return to office plan mistakes, you must look at the big picture of who you have coming back to work, how they are feeling about the return, what you can do to make the transition as smooth as possible, and what your ongoing actions must be to ensure lasting success.
Above all else, your safety and the safety of your employees must be a priority. The success of the re-opening of your office is heavily reliant on how comfortable your staff feels as they return to work; ask, listen and keep communication flowing to ensure a smooth transition back into office life.
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