After more than a year of working from home, many businesses are looking ahead at the possibility of returning to the office later this year. This is an exciting prospect for many. However, in the same way working from home required a transition, returning to the office will, too.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do now to prepare your office for reopening and build excitement among your employees as they get ready to come back. These five tips can help you freshen up your space and welcome employees back in a positive way.
1. Redecorate Your Workspace
One of the simplest things you can do before your employees return is redecorate to create an inviting environment. Giving your space an upgrade will build anticipation for your office reopening, since the “big reveal” will give everyone something to look forward to.
Redecorating doesn’t require a major overhaul. Simple things like window, wall, and floor graphics can go a long way in making your space feel brand new. Vinyl graphics can be applied just about anywhere—not only on windows, walls, and floors, but also on doors, furniture, appliances, and even ceilings.
Use specially designed and branded graphics to create an immersive experience and build brand pride among your teams. For example, apply a floor-to-ceiling graphic in a prominent area to create a statement wall and an office focal point. It could display your company’s mission or vision to remind employees why you do business.
2. Revamp Visitor Areas
Reopening your office doesn’t only mean your employees are coming back—it also signals the return of in-person meetings with clients. Extend your redecorating efforts to common areas and visitor spaces like your lobby, waiting areas, and meeting rooms to further solidify your brand experience.
Just like your employee-facing workspaces, outfit these areas with new graphics that display who your brand is and what you stand for. You want visitors to have a positive experience with your brand in order to strengthen those relationships—especially after a year of distance.
3. Consider Different Comfort Levels
Even when it’s safe for employees to return to work, everyone is going to have different comfort levels for in-person interactions. During your transition back to the office, be mindful of these varying preferences and adapt to meet individual needs.
One way to do this is to utilize social distancing signage while redecorating your space. Employ floor decals in common areas, as well as signs on tables and chairs in meeting rooms, to remind people to keep a safe distance. You could also implement directional signage to indicate one-way pathways where necessary.
Another way to improve the comfort of your office is to provide employees with tools to express their preferences nonverbally. This could take the form of desk signage, chair decals, stickers, wristbands, lanyards, or other visual indicators that use a color system to alert coworkers about what types of interactions are appropriate. For example, a red sign could mean no physical contact, while yellow means elbow bumps are okay, and green indicates handshakes, hugs, and high-fives are welcome.
4. Build the Excitement
Many people will be excited to see their coworkers face-to-face again and any changes you’ve made to your office. Build on this excitement and boost morale by making the return to the office a momentous occasion!
Invite employees back with a “welcome back” box packed with branded gifts, new materials, and goodies. This type of gesture will help your employees reconnect and feel like they are a valued member of the team.
You can put almost anything in the box—branded or otherwise—but some ideas include: essential office supplies, important information about new guidelines, comfort level indicators, and an assortment of fun items. This could be electronics, such as headphones or mini Bluetooth speakers, self-care and relaxation kits, branded apparel, and more!
5. Stay Positive
After working from home for so long, transitioning back to the office will be more challenging for some employees than others. Make sure your team members know you’re there to support them every step of the way.
Keep your overall messaging positive to remind people of the many good things that returning to the office can offer. Focus on the benefits, such as enhanced collaboration, creativity, and problem-solving, as well as team unity.
In addition, find ways to celebrate together. Maintain positivity by celebrating being back together as a team and recognizing special occasions, individual accomplishments, team wins, goals achieved, and more. These celebrations can help employees get back in the groove while also fostering a more positive workplace.
Bringing your teams back to the office will no doubt require a period of transition. However, by planning ahead, finding ways to engage employees, and working to make their return as positive as possible, you’ll be able to forge ahead as a stronger, more unified company.