Back to Reality: Tips for Getting Employees Back to the Office


employees in office

While we wish expired snacks and dead desk plants were the only challenges surrounding a return to the office, the reality is that it’s more of a challenge than many organizations initially anticipated.

Between fluctuating COVID-19 numbers and having a workforce that’s become accustomed to remote work, bringing people back into the office, even part-time, is a major adjustment. Here are some tips for encouraging employees to return to the office and doing so safely.

Take the pulse of your organization

When creating and announcing your return to office plans, employees should never feel blindsided, unprepared or like their voices aren’t being heard. Taking the pulse of your organization via an anonymous survey can help you understand expectations and design a plan that works for everyone involved.

Some points to cover in your survey:

  • Comfort level with returning to the office
  • How many days per week an individual is comfortable working in the office
  • If an individual is fully vaccinated against COVID-19
  • Comfort level working with a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals

Make sure you use an anonymous survey and ensure individuals know their responses cannot be traced back to them. Also, set expectations on their end -- be mindful of the consensus, but remind employees that ultimately the organization will have to proceed in a way that works for the greater good.

Bonus tip: If your organization utilizes tools like the Clarity SimplyWell employee rewards program, you’ll have access to a prebuilt reopening survey to easily and anonymously get a feel for your employees’ comfort levels.

Manage re-entry anxiety and help people reconnect

People’s lives have been altered in various degrees over the past year and a half -- for some, life has been turned completely upside down. Many people are experiencing “reverse culture shock” or “re-entry anxiety,” meaning that going back to normal is more of a challenge than originally anticipated.

You can help people reconnect and overcome re-entry anxiety by sharing your various mental health benefits and resources before and during the transition. Once back in the office, offer multiple one-on-one check-ins and opportunities to reconnect with coworkers safely. For example, you can arrange breakroom or cafeteria seating in a way that is socially distant but makes conversation possible.

Address COVID-19 with rewards rather than mandates

When the COVID-19 vaccine first became available, many organizations saw it as an opportunity for a safe and smooth office reopening. But, like with all major changes and unprecedented situations, there were unforeseen challenges.

With vaccine hesitancy and resistant variants being a concern for many organizations making their return to the office, company leaders believe they face two options: mandating vaccination or risking the possibility of giving employees the impression that health and safety is not the top priority.

The good news is that there’s a third option that can help employers bring their employees back safely and engage them in the process. By rewarding employees for receiving the vaccine rather than mandating it, employers can increase vaccine adoption, promote a culture of health and wellness and take an encouraging approach. For example, the Clarity SimplyWell Rewards program helps organizations provide a monetary reward for the COVID-19 vaccination, which has proven to be a simple and easy way to improve a return to the office.

Utilize technology that streamlines the return to the office and more

Administering surveys, tracking vaccine rewards and integrating these efforts with existing benefits can be daunting without the right tools. Technology like the Clarity SimplyWell Rewards platform can make it easy.

Simply determine your reward amount and provide Clarity with your list of employees, and the rest is automated and easy. With customizable options and two reward options, you can create a program that works best for you. SimplyWell also connects to existing Clarity plans, allowing individuals to receive their rewards via their Clarity Benefit Card if they have one.

Getting started with SimplyWell is easy -- contact us today to find out more.