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Getting employees back to work during the ever-changing COVID crisis can be challenging. Some companies have succeeded while others have not. Jason Greer, labor and diversity-management consulting expert who helps companies and organizations address their workplace challenges, is here to talk about how to get people back to work. 

A current issue in the workplace environment is getting people back into the office. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, working from home has become the new norm. However, there’s been a growing movement on the part of companies who are seeking to bring their employees back to the office. 

Although some employees are more than willing to come back to the office, there are others who feel more productive, in addition to feeling safer, working from home. The challenge for so many companies and organizations is convincing their employees that they need to come back to the office.  

Jason has interviewed employees across multiple industries about their experiences working from home. Many are upfront with the fact that they can be more productive when working from home in addition to feeling safer and more comfortable working while at home.

This is especially true for employees who deal with high anxiety working in confined office spaces. Others find that the creature comforts of not dealing with mind-numbing commutes and the stressors associated with playing the game of “office politics” actually frees them to focus on their professional development. 

But some employees feel that working from home can hinder departmental and corporate communication because people are no longer meeting in physical office spaces.  Instead, people connect through digital meetings and often lack strong connections, which can hinder the efficacy of a meeting. 

For Companies and organizations seeking to get employees back to work, here are Jason Greer’s tips to encourage your staff back to the workplace. 

The first tip is to understand people’s positions and emotions surrounding going back to the workplace. After working from home for almost two years, it can be challenging to get people to change their routines. Some employees will be bored of working from residence whereas others will enjoy it.

Therefore, it is important as a manager to understand and empathize with each employee’s emotions and thoughts around going back to work. The more you empathize and give people time, the more willing they will return to work. Offering support and patience will ensure that they do not feel forced to join the workplace but instead will ensure to come back in on their own time. 

Moreover, letting employees know their purpose and rewarding them for their success over the work from home period will encourage them to do more for the company. When you let staff know about their accomplishments, they will acknowledge your appreciation and likely want to show off more of what they can do. Giving employees a purpose and a bit of recognition will increase their engagement and feel more willing to work from the workplace environments instead of their homes. 

The next phase is encouraging employee meetings in the workplace instead of online. This will give staff a reason to come back to the office, and once they are there, they will acknowledge that there is nothing to fear. In addition, they might realize that they have missed the environment and the contact with their colleagues, which might encourage them to return to work more. 

Many employees dislike the thought of going back to the office due to a lack of reward, especially if their productivity is lower. Therefore, Jason suggests offering rewards for coming back to the workplace. However, you shouldn’t provide negative feedback for a slower output as it may happen.

Especially when staff feel unfamiliar with the surroundings and have more distractions and meetings, ensure to praise employees throughout the transition back into the office, even if the work rate is a little slower. It will soon pick back up. As patient as you should be with the staff, you need to be patient with your business when things are slow, as excessive pressure could prevent people from wanting to come back to work.

Ensure to be patient, empathic, and kind to people who are unsure about returning to work. The more patient you are, the less pressure staff will feel. 

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