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5 Tips for Welcoming Employees Back to the Office

If you are one of the many companies who have been working from home for more than a year, the possibility of returning to the office is looking like a reality. This is an exciting prospect for many. However, working from home required a transition and now returning to the office will, too. Luckily, 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 will help you freshen up your business and welcome employees and potentially clients back in a positive way.

1. Update Your Workspaces

One of the simplest things you can do before your employees return is to create an inviting environment. Giving your space an upgrade will build anticipation for your office reopening. Use the “big reveal” to give everyone something to look forward to. Redecorating doesn’t require a major overhaul. Simple things like window, wall and floor graphics (AKA environmental graphics) can go a long way in making your space feel brand new. Graphics aren't just for the usual locations. They can go just about anywhere—doors, furniture, appliances, and even ceilings. Use the graphics as an opportunity to communicate changes or create excitement about where the business is headed. Incorporate graphics with signage elements to create an immersive experience and build brand pride among your teams. For example, add an acrylic logo to a graphic covered wall to make a statement and a visual focal point. The overall design can display your company’s mission or vision to remind employees why you do business.

2. Revamp Visitor Areas

When your office reopens, it doesn’t only mean your employees are coming back—it also signals the return of in-person meetings with clients and vendors. Extend your efforts to update common areas and visitor spaces like your lobby, waiting areas, and meeting rooms. If you need to incorporate social distancing or other graphics to these areas, ensure that they add to the overall brand experience by staying on brand. If your business has made significant changes in the past year, new graphics that display who your brand is and what you stand for will help communicate that to clients. Visitors who have a positive immersive experience with your brand will strengthen the relationship—especially after a year of distance. Remind your visitors why you are an important partner.

3. Consider Different Comfort Levels

During your transition back to the office, be mindful that everyone is going to have different levels of comfort for in-person interactions.  Be aware of the varying preferences your employees and visitors may have and adapt to meet individual needs. Social distancing is one way to keep individuals safe while indoors.  Plan to use signage as a part of redecorating your office. Employ floor decals in common areas. Place signs on tables and chairs in meeting rooms, to remind people to keep a safe distance. In congested areas, implement directional signage to indicate one-way pathways where necessary. If you have a large team or multiple levels of comfort, provide employees returning to the office with tools to express their preferences nonverbally. This could take the form of desk signage, stickers, wristbands, lanyards, or other visual indicators that use a color system to alert coworkers to the types of interactions that 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 team members will be excited to see their coworkers face-to-face again. And any changes you’ve made to your office will add to the excitement. Build on this positive energy and boost morale by making a momentous occasion of returning to the office! Create that celebratory experience with a “welcome back” box packed with branded gifts, new office materials, and goodies. This type of gesture will help your employees reconnect and feel like they are valued members of your 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. Update employee apparel or drinkware that hasn't now that client visits will increase.  Or provide self-care and relaxation kits to show the team that you understand this is a stressful yet exciting transition.  Returning to the office gives you many options to provide employee gifts.

5. Stay Positive about Returning to the Office

Finally, after working from home for so long, transitioning back to the office will be more challenging for some employees than others. Communicate to your team members that you are there to support them every step of the way. If your insurance, human resources, or other community partner offers mental health support provide those details to all staff members. Keeping your messaging positive will 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. Additionally, find ways to celebrate together. Recognize the special occasions, individual accomplishments, team wins, and goals achieved that might have been overlooked during the time working from home. These celebrations can help employees feel like things are back to normal, while also fostering a positive workplace. Returning to the office will no doubt require a period of transition for you and your team. Plan your return ahead, find ways to engage employees, and work to make the return to the office as positive as possible. Leading with excitement and a positive attitude will create a stronger, more unified team for any challenges that might arise.

About AlphaGraphics Kansas City

Located in the creative Crossroads Arts District, AlphaGraphics Kansas City is a certified Women-Owned business that specializes in helping Kansas City businesses solve marketing problems. The printing company’s production specialties include G7 Certified digital color and large format printing.

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