Pandemic and remote working fatigue is in full swing for everyone, and a degree of normalcy will be a welcome sight. With the return to the office now on the horizon, the transition back to some form of normality doesn’t come without challenges.
Here are some of the major obstacles to consider and how to address them.
A safe workspace
Most businesses have been operating fully remotely for the last year, with the odd appearance in the office in between lockdowns. With buildings being vacant, you don’t want your team returning to a mouldy or infested office space. So, first up, check the office is clean and tidy, and facilities work as normal.
Of course, when considering safety at the moment, exposure to the virus must be considered and the risks minimised. Encourage active methods of travel to the office and think about the logistics involved in having a team in the office – space required, social distancing, the use of meeting rooms, food arrangements, staggered start times, hand sanitiser and so on. Employees need to feel comfortable in the working environment. For sales teams specifically, you want to build a great atmosphere and selling environment, but must be considerate about close contact.
Additionally, from a legal point of view, you need to consider the obligations that may be required of your staff – wearing masks in the right places, reducing the use of shared bathrooms, telling people with symptoms to go home and stay home, as well as anyone else in contact with someone who tests positive, and encouraging getting the vaccine if and when applicable. Some businesses will go the extra mile with temperature screening on arrival and so on, but having some form of policy in place puts people’s minds at ease and ensures team safety.
Transitioning back to office life
While many salespeople will retain some form of remote working to their job, others will choose to go back to the office full time. Either way, the transition needs to be made as easy as possible.
Regular and open communication with your team is vital to help this transition. Employees need to know what you are doing to mitigate the risks of spreading Covid-19, as well as a timeline on what is expected from them. You’ll also need to take any issues raised by your team seriously – mental health, such as stress and anxiety, has increased since the start of the pandemic so it’s natural for some employees to feel nervous about returning to the office.
There may also need to be an element of training if there are new policies being introduced, or if you’ve used the time away to implement new tools and systems to cope with the remote working environment.
Managing expectations and concerns
In an ideal world, new tools and technologies that have been implemented will seamlessly slot back into office life. However, most businesses have had to make adjustments to serve a remote working environment, so it’ll be a natural transition to enable both physical and remote environments. Access to data and systems, as well as any physical servers, will need to be considered
Additionally, you should regularly check in with your team to find out if they have any concerns or if anything needs to change. This is an unprecedented time so you shouldn’t expect it to be smooth sailing. Treat the return to the office and a constantly changing situation. You need to be flexible. You need to be adaptable. You need to reinstate the office culture. And you need to make sure all employees feel safe and comfortable.
If you’ve changed the office layout, or the seating plan, make sure this is communicated to the team before they arrive. Try to avoid any unwanted surprises to avoid any downtime or a drop in team morale.
Finally, the return to the office may well be approaching, but there is now a legitimate question about whether you need to enforce a return. Remember, some employees may feel more comfortable working remotely, and more productive! Before you put any plans to get your sales team back in the office, make sure you’ve planned the logistics and have put the time and resources in to ensure it’s a smooth transition and reduce resistance.