Is Your Communications Strategy in Place for a Mass On-boarding?

The return to the office is on the horizon. Is your communications strategy in place for a mass on-boarding? 

The post-pandemic workplace won’t be the same one we left in March 2020. For some employees and business owners, the ability to work remotely has had them buying property in the hinterlands with the hopes that they’ll never have to return to their desk. For others however, working from home has been less than ideal. 

A recent survey from Morneau Shepell found that 40 percent of managers in finance and professional services have considered leaving their jobs since the pandemic started, citing the loss of social connections and the blurring of lines between home and work life as key motivators. Add to that an average of 12 more hours of work each week and less vacation time, many white-collar workers suffering from anxiety, loneliness, and burn-out. They’re ready to return to their bricks and mortar workspace as soon as it is permissible, but when it is, will the office be ready to receive them?

A PwC survey found that just one in five CFOs said they believed that their company could return to business as usual within a month if the crisis ended today.

We’ve been inundated with messages of self-care for a year. How will that be reflected in the workplace? Pre-pandemic, open concept and shared desk spaces were the norm, but do they conform to our need for social distancing? Cleaning protocols, scheduled arrivals, elevator capacity, sick leave, travel requirements and boardroom seating capacities are just a sample of the questions that will need answering. 

Companies should view the return as a mass on-boarding, with every employee re-living their first day with the company. Employers need to take the time now to determine how the migration back to the office will happen. Critical elements to success include: 

Setting an action plan: Review the unique needs of each location, department, team or business group to create a thorough and logical roadmap to re-opening. Remember to survey employees for their input – their participation in the planning process will add to its legitimacy and encourage greater engagement when the plan is implemented. 

Making safety a priority: This will be the greatest single concern for staff and the most significant change to offices. Having spent a year acclimatizing to required health protocols, your teams’ learned behaviours and fears need to be clearly addressed in your operating procedures. 

Opening the lines of communication: Execution of the plan will require a communication strategy that keeps everyone informed and engaged throughout the process. Properly timed concise messaging presented in multiple dynamic formats will help to mitigate employee stress and eliminate workflow interruptions during the transition.  

Unlike the onset of COVID-19, the return to the workplace will not be a surprise. If done wrong, businesses stand to lose even more money to downtime and valued employees to fear and frustration.  Planning now can ensure a smooth return with an emboldened team that’s ready to get back to business.  

Jason Chennette About the author
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