Our team is about to enter stage two of our return-to-office plans, meaning that 60% of us will be back on-site as of September 15th. We’ve worked hard over the last few months to ensure this transition will be safe and enjoyable for our team. Here are a few unique ideas we’ve incorporated into our plans that go above and beyond the basics.
1 – Indicator Bracelets
We all have varying comfort levels when interacting with others in a COVID world. To avoid any miscommunication, we’re introducing an indicator bracelet system. Team members can chose to wear either red, yellow or green to indicate their comfort level and to let people know how to best interact with them. Our baseline assumption is that everyone will be following all rules, but this is an added level of reassurance that will help us monitor our own behaviour and better understand how our colleagues are feeling. See the colour legend below.
2 – Office Door Signs
To welcome the team back, we’re posting door signs for those returning on-site. The signs can be written on using dry erase markers and include a picture, the days of the week someone is working, their hours, their comfort level (red, yellow or green, like the indicator bracelets) and a fun personal fact.
The goal of these signs is to increase communication and camaraderie among returning employees – especially for new team members who were virtually onboarded throughout COVID.
Download the above template here: Blank Example Door Sign
3 – Welcome Back Kit
Consider offering a “Welcome Back Kit” that awaits employees on their desk and reintroduces them to the office environment in a celebratory way.
Options to include in this welcome package are:
- Reusable Cutlery – makes bringing your own lunches easier
- Disinfectant Wipes – to easily wipe down your work area
- Hand Sanitizer – to minimize frequent bathroom traffic
- Mask – consider branding these masks, or offering unique patterns to make them fun
- Food/Beverage Gift Card – to make it easier not to use the kitchen
- Office Guideline Sheet – a sheet outlining the main do’s and don’ts of the office
4 – Voluntary Return-to-Work
Recognizing that this may not be an option for all employers, we had the liberty of offering a voluntary return to team members. We started by sharing our return-to-office plans with everyone, and then asked all employees to complete a survey letting us know if they wanted to come back on-site two days a week. We chose to ask this in a survey to allow team members to answer honestly without having a one-on-one conversation with their superior.
What we found was that many were so grateful to have a choice. In the end, about 60% decided they wanted to return to the office and about 40% said they would like to continue to work from home. Reasons to continue to work from home included uncertainty around childcare, caring for an at-risk individual and not being comfortable with taking public transit.
We believe that by giving our employees a choice between returning and not returning, the sentiment around returning to the office will be positive and enjoyable for everyone.
5 – Remote Work over the Holiday Season
As part of our stage 2 return-to-office plans, we’ve decided that we will work on-site for 10 weeks (from September 15th to December 1st) and then go back to fully remote work in December and January. Why? Cold and flu season is at its peak during this time. Shutting down the office may help reduce the potential of an outbreak and allow your employees to feel safe and valued.