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How to have a magical day 1 back in the office

When it gets to a magical “day 1”, it may be hard to break the inertia and actually bring staff back to the office. How to create a positive momentum around relaunch and make sure your workplace is buzzing again? We have compiled some of the best practices from our customers that have successfully restarted their offices.

Askhat Zhumayev
May 18, 2021

As things are increasingly getting back to normal, more and more companies are reopening their offices. It is truly an exciting moment, and it feels a bit like a new year in school after long summer holidays. Many people have been waiting for a long time to reconnect with their workmates, collaborate in person again, and some people - even to meet their colleagues in person for the first time.

So all the preparation is done, the date is defined and office reopening is communicated to the staff. However, when it gets to a magical “day 1”, in some offices you see most of the staff happily back and in the others there may be just a handful of staff. It may be difficult to break the inertia, and to create a positive momentum around the office reopening. How do you create a positive momentum around workplace relaunch? We have compiled some of the best practices  from our customers that have successfully restarted their workplaces.

Fix the basics

To ask your staff to come back to the office, you need to make sure your workplace is fully ready in the first place. That includes increased cleaning frequency, availability of sanitisers, new desk spacing, and defining the new office capacity. It is important that your employees feel that the office is a good and safe environment to return to.

Explain “why”

It is important that your staff understands why there is a need for the staff to return. While working from home does have a lot of benefits to it, there are some vital aspects of your company operations that can only function properly when staff work together from the office. These include proper onboarding and integration of new staff, coaching of junior colleagues, creative ideation, as well as very importantly horizontal and cross-functional collaboration. All of these elements are critical to the business culture and ultimately the company performance.It is important these are highlighted for the staff, and are substantiated by facts, numbers, and evidence. For example, an address from CEO may say “we had 90 colleagues join over the last 12 months, however most of them haven’t seen their teammates in person for a day”. Or “we are going to launch 2 products these quarter, and launching them successfully requires intense in-person collaboration between multiple teams and departments”.

Define the operating model and set the expectations

It is important that you define the operating model, and then clearly communicate it to the staff. The operating model can be “working in a hybrid mode, and everyone is expected to be in the office 3 days a week”, or having designated different days of the week for different teams. Another example that is being used successfully  is defining shifts, when for example half of the team comes in on Monday & Tuesday and then another half on Wednesday & Thursday. It is important that communication contains clear expectations on when and how often the staff are expected to be in the office.

Be a role model

In any company, employees look up to the management. If the management wants staff to return to the office (and the majority does), the management needs to set an example, by being in the office on certain days, conducting work meetings and workshops in the office, and so forth. A good example here is a group of senior leaders posting pictures or videos from their first days in the office on the company slack channel, intranet or social pages.

Make it fun

In addition to creating the right environment for people to return from the safety and office processes point of view, consider making it fun. Think of throwing in a low-key (and COVID-safe) office reopening party, or at least team drinks. Make the office a hub for staff to connect, collaborate and re-energise by adding snack stations and refilling your office kitchen. Offer a weekly or daily team lunch or breakfast. Consider organising  COVID-safe yoga, team workout, or mindfulness classes at work. Or perhaps designate certain days as pet-friendly - that makes it fun for the staff, and takes from the pet owners the worry of leaving their pets behind.

To sum up, to make your office reopening a success, it is not enough to just open the doors and tell staff “you are welcome to come back”. You need to actively enable, support and encourage the return to the office through the effective mix of new processes, communication, incentives and enablement for your staff..

Happy reopening, we’ll see you in the office soon!

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