If you’re making plans for a return to the office in the coming weeks and months, you might hear from some of your employees who aren’t as excited as you are about getting back. That’s perfectly understandable, which is why it’s going to be important for you, as a small business owner, to craft a strategy for the return that both ensures your business can succeed and also shows that you’re mindful of your staff’s concerns and hesitations.
It’s a fine line to walk, and it’s important to have a plan in place. As you start to put together your strategy for a return to the office, here are a few helpful hints that hopefully can help you strike the right balance moving forward.
Flexibility is your friend
The transition to remote work during the pandemic accelerated work-from-home trends and introduced countless employees to a workday freed from daily commutes. It also demonstrated to many employers that productivity can remain high even when your workers are away from the office. As you look to the future, don’t hesitate to find ways to preserve that flexibility.
Your office doesn’t need to go fully remote if it isn’t a good fit for your business, but developing a hybrid model where a portion of time is in the office and the balance is work from home can help preserve that lifestyle flexibility so many workers have come to enjoy. Schedules also could be staggered so a certain percentage of employees are in the office on certain days, while the others work remotely.
Compassion, understanding go a long way
One reason so many employees cherish remote work is because it affords them greater freedom to devote time to themselves and their families. As such, keep in mind what they’ve come to value this past year and be empathetic to that which they want to hold on to.
Also, some childcare centers may not be fully open yet, putting pressures on working parents who juggle their jobs and family responsibilities. Be aware of situations like that, and let your employees get the breathing space they need to focus on the things they grew accustomed to managing more readily during the past year.
Remember, a return to the office also provides your business an opportunity to re-evaluate its existing corporate culture. How can you craft an engaging environment that’s challenging, yet supportive, educational, but fun for your team members? Be sure to take the necessary time to foster a culture at your office that’s both rewarding and empathetic for your employees and their needs.
Make a plan and communicate it clearly
For those who are more eager to get back to the office, it’ll be important to develop a transparent and manageable plan to guide their return. Bringing your employees to the table for its formation will help not only help secure buy-in, but also generate some helpful ideas that can better inform your approach.
Once a plan is in place for reopening, it’ll be important for you to communicate clearly and concisely with your team about your expectations. For instance, if you decide to let workers continue to work remotely, be sure to lay out your vision for when they need to be available and be transparent in what you expect from a workflow and performance standpoint.
Additionally, many of your employees might having lingering concerns around the pandemic, so be sure to outline the various steps you’ve taken to ensure they have a safe place to work. Be sure to address important COVID-19 safety issues, such as ways to ensure fresh airflow into the office, guidance on how many people can be in a room at a given time and your policies for mask-wearing and vaccination.
Serving our clients is a priority
At Padgett, we’re not immune to the challenges presented by a return to the office. Our network of CPAs, enrolled agents and tax professionals are charting their own paths as well, and we pride ourselves in being able to collaborate with and advise our small business clients on tricky issues like these. Throughout the pandemic, we helped clients secure more than $94 million in pandemic relief funding, aiding them in keeping their doors open, their staff employed and their customers served. If you’re a small business seeking a trusted partner to stand with you, don’t hesitate to reach out to an office today.