7 Steps to Take When Bringing Remote Workers Back to the Office

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, many organizations adopted remote work policies as a way to keep operations running without risking the spread of illness due to people working side-by-side in enclosed offices. While remote working has worked exceptionally well for some organizations, others may have business models that just don’t fit well with long-term remote work.

As vaccines are distributed, infection rates start to drop and lockdown measures ease, many companies are now wondering what plans they should make to bring remote workers back to the office.

It’s not as simple as just reopening your doors and carrying on with business as usual. After months spent working from home, many workers have seen the benefits of more flexible schedules and environments. They may be reluctant to return to the office if the environment doesn’t provide the same comfort and flexibility they’ve become accustomed to.

Here are seven key steps to take when bringing remote employees back to the office.

1. Ensure Communication Is Clear and Comprehensive

Clear communication about your return-to-the-office plan for each employee is crucial to ensure people feel safe and comfortable doing so.
For example, will remote work be an option for employees moving forward? If so, can they decide their own schedules, or will you allow them to work remotely only on set days? Are there certain meetings/events that employees must always be in the office for? All this needs to be decided, clearly documented and communicated to staff in a timely manner.
An effective communication strategy should also address the following:

It’s always a good idea to solicit employee feedback as you go along. Conduct anonymous surveys, and gather feedback in team and individual meetings to see where you can improve. Adjust your policies accordingly.

2. Create and Enforce High Safety Standards

According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, more than half of employees working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic say that, given a choice, they’d like to continue working remotely even after it ends. And most aren’t interested in returning until they feel safe doing so: 64% say they’re uncomfortable about returning to work while the pandemic is ongoing.
These findings reinforce the need to ensure high safety standards at your workplace(s) before remote workers feel fully comfortable returning—especially if you want to bring people back before the pandemic is fully over. Even after the pandemic has ended, it’s safe to assume that many employees may still be wary of gathering in enclosed spaces for quite some time. Below are a few safety measures you can implement, both now and in the future:

3. Ease the Transition

Bringing remote workers back to the office too quickly can be overwhelming and potentially lead to protocol mistakes by employers.
Plan carefully and opt for a more gradual approach so you can identify what works and what needs to be updated. Here are a few things to consider:

4. Help Employees Feel Comfortable

Not every remote employee has had the luxury of a dedicated home office. However, many of those who have been working from home for months on end may have added elements to make their workspace more comfortable. Many have invested in noise-canceling headphones or a comfortable office chair.

Working from home has also allowed employees to have more control over their environment and how their day is structured. Some can take breaks for snacks, lunch, exercise or even short naps when they want if their schedule is flexible. A return to a more rigid environment that doesn’t allow for these same comforts could dissuade employees from wanting to go back to the office.

Consider improving and enhancing office surroundings to make employees feel more comfortable. Examples of things you might implement include:

5. Reduce Office Distractions

Office distractions can negatively impact employee morale and, by extension, productivity. A new survey by Udemy shows that 34% of employees felt that office distraction is a morale killer and can potentially impact productivity. To compensate for these interruptions, most people work faster. And according to a UC Irvine study, an uptick in pace comes at a price: greater frustration, increased stress levels and nearly twice as many employee errors.

To help reduce unnecessary distractions and allow for improved focus, consider the following:

6. Ensure Your Return to the Office Policy Is Flexible

A hybrid work approach may make more sense than bringing everyone back to the office full time. This means you’ll need to review your current in-office policies and update them to reflect whatever new hybrid working practices you decide to implement. For example:

7. Focus on Team Building

One benefit of having employees in the office is the deeper connections they can create by interacting in person. This can lead to greater happiness, trust and camaraderie, all of which can foster greater innovation and productivity while keeping turnover rates low. Studies show that employees who work in groups innovate faster by seeing mistakes more quickly and solving them promptly.

When you bring employees back to the office, emphasize activities that focus on team building to help reignite the bonds between staff. A few examples include:

How Parallels RAS Can Help You Transition Employees Back to the Office

Transitioning from remote to office work isn’t likely to be an easy process. Even after the COVID-19 crisis is over, it’s unlikely that most workplaces will simply return to pre-pandemic norms.

Instead, you’ll likely need to create a type of hybrid working model where you can bring back employees to the office gradually, allowing some to continue working remotely while others with required on-premises jobs come into the office every day.

Regardless of what your back-to-the-office plan looks like, Parallels® Remote Application Server (RAS) can support your business. As a one-stop desktop virtualization solution, Parallels RAS facilitates secure, anywhere, anytime access to remote desktops and applications on any device or OS. This allows employees to transition easily from remote to in-office work (and vice versa) so they can work productively regardless of where they’re located.

Even if an employee loses an endpoint device or the device is compromised, company resources always remain within your datacenter, so all information is fully protected. Parallels RAS also employs robust security protocols such as smart-card authentication, multi-factor authentication (MFA) and advanced filtering to further secure corporate resources.

Most importantly, Parallels RAS is cost-effective and scalable. You can manage and scale up or down the entire IT infrastructure via a single console with ease, allowing you to adjust and adapt to any situation.

Learn how Parallels RAS can help you transition employees back to the office by watching a free demo today!