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Helping new staff return to a post-lockdown workplace

During the pandemic, businesses have been forced to find new, more creative ways of working and keeping productivity levels high. People who have been part of your workforce for years will have a deep understanding of how things were done in your organisation before lockdown. Newer team members won’t have that advantage, as many have been working from home and have been unable to chat with other staff members at lunch or during meetings. The challenges of bringing back employees and integrating them with your newer members of staff are unprecedented, but there are effective ways of keeping your team safe, happy and united.

Give people advanced warning of your plans

Whether you are bringing back new or old employees to the workplace, they need to be informed of your plans well in advance. People who have been working from home may have childcare commitments or other responsibilities which must be covered before they are free to return. Consider sending a letter as the first point of contact, then follow this up with a call so you can address any worries or problems that individuals may have. You might also need to agree on a temporary change in working hours due to their circumstances regarding transport or if they are clinically vulnerable and wish to work in isolation.

Work hard to integrate new employees successfully

Providing a warm welcome to new team members can ensure that everything gets off on the right foot. It can be achieved in part by people in the management team getting in touch via video call in the days before their start date. Then, once they have arrived, have a chat about possible training opportunities and give them the chance to ask questions they may have after speaking with their managers. You can also confirm they are comfortable in their new office space.

Encourage communication and team building

If your new employees are still working remotely, ensure they can share ideas and give the team feedback during regular video meetings. That allows them to voice any concerns and provides them with a deeper understanding of your business and keeps them up to date with any developments relevant to their role. You could also consider virtual team-building exercises to help people get to know each other and nurture their problem-solving abilities. This may help people feel better about themselves and the team they are part of, plus, once they are back in the workplace, they will be ready to work together.

COVID-19 testing can help you avoid an outbreak

Although choosing to test your employees is still voluntary, the government believes that workplace testing is vital if the spread of COVID-19 is to be halted. To get your people tested safely and accurately, you can use a professional service such as that provided by Matrix Diagnostics. They offer a range of different COVID-19 testing options that are 98.7-99% accurate. Some tests give a result within 15 minutes. As many people can have the virus without ever displaying any symptoms, testing allows you to identify cases swiftly and ask the people affected to isolate themselves before an outbreak has the time to develop. That gives your team confidence in their safety at work and means the business avoids extended periods of downtime.

Some people may have concerns about returning

Many people feel anxious about returning to work after being at home for so long and others fear exposure to the virus. Reassure anyone who appears nervous or lets you know they have doubts by making their safety a priority. Explain to them that preventative measures are in place and speak to them about how the environment complies with government guidelines. Ideally, everyone would have at least had their first vaccination, but there could be a few people who have not had both or either. In some circumstances, you might be able to agree on extending their period of home working, or you could bring people back in phases and have a new layout in place, so the environment does not feel crowded.

Consider the experience a positive one

Employers in the UK and across the globe are having to find new talent and bring back existing employees while maintaining a safe, productive working environment. When the process is well-planned, it presents an opportunity for beneficial change, bringing together new people to form new collaborations, ensuring employees feel valued and keeping the organisation moving forward toward its objectives.