As the world continues to emerge from the pandemic, many companies want their staff to return to the office after an extended period of remote work.
However, this transition is not without its challenges.
Here are some of the biggest challenges that companies can face when bringing their staff back to the office after working from home.
1. Flexibility & Comfort of Working From Home
Many employees have grown used to the flexibility and comfort of working from home.
They have become accustomed to:
- Being in their own environment
- Controlling their work hours
- Avoiding stressful commutes
Employees may be anxious about returning to the office. The fear of adjusting to a new routine, and the pressures of in-person interaction can cause anxiety and fear.
Employers can try to allow flexible hours where possible, and staggering schedules to help employees gradually adjust to their new routine.
2. Resuming Old Routines
Working remotely offers the flexibility of setting individual work schedules and reducing daily commute time.
Consequently, returning to the office may be challenging for employees who have gotten used to their remote work routines.
Employers can provide guidance and support on how to re-establish routines, including:
- Waking up early
- Taking the same commute to work
- Building new daily habits
Encouraging social interactions, team meetings, and getting to know new colleagues can also help employees settle into their new routine.
3. Workplace Culture
After spending a considerable amount of time working from home, employees may have a different perspective on the company’s culture, values, and expectations.
There may be a disconnection between employees who have been working remotely and those who have been in the office.
Employers should consider ways of re-building and strengthening the company culture, such as:
- Organising team-building activities
- Social events
- Recognition programs to celebrate employee achievements
These initiatives can help bring back a sense of belonging, which may have been lost during remote work.
4. Emotional Challenges
Returning to the office after a prolonged period of remote work can be emotionally challenging for employees.
It may be difficult to transition from the comfort of working from home to a more structured office environment.
The office may be a source of emotional triggers; reminding employees of the stress and anxiety they experienced pre-pandemic.
Employers should encourage open communication, provide emotional support, and acknowledge that returning to the office may be difficult.
The return to the office after working from home is not an easy transition, but it is a necessary one.
Employers should be empathetic and flexible, and recognise the challenges employees may face.
Clear communication, transparency, and support will be essential to make the transition back to the office as smooth and comfortable as possible.
By addressing the challenges, employers can foster a more productive, cohesive and positive workplace environment.