One return-to-office plan isn’t enough

How to create multiple return-to-office experiences to accommodate the needs of your employees? Whether it’s drafting safety measures or redesigning the office layout, company leaders have many things on their mind as they work towards reopening offices this year.

From new hires to seasoned managers, employees are at different stages of their journey at your company. Recognizing these differences will help you to develop a return-to-office plan that will empower employees at all levels of your organization. 

For managers

With predictions of post-pandemic turnover suggesting a change in jobs for 41% of workers globally, employee retention is an urgent concern for managers everywhere. Orchestrating a return-to-office experience that assuages fears and maintains morale is essential. This starts with making sure that management is prepared.


Using an Employee Experience management tool like Dado allows you to get managers ready by

  • Providing them with useful resources such as Return-to-Office FAQs, a Health Measures Guide, Office Setup Recommendations, etc.
  • Supporting and scheduling live information sessions
  • Giving them templates so that they can create individualized return-to-office plans for each of their reports
  • Having a clear timeline to allow for feedback and engagement from your staff

Every single people manager from the C-Suite down should be given the tools they need to empathize with their employees, support their teams and create equity across the organization. If bandwidth issues are stopping you from implementing a scalable software solution, try to find the budget to cover your company’s bandwidth needs. If people are the most important asset of an organization, don’t let your return-to-office plan be a liability to retaining them. 

For tenured employees

Tenured employees have invaluable knowledge when it comes to both role-specific skills and a deep understanding of company and office culture. Lean into empowering them in order to both ensure consistency of culture as well as an ear to the ground on what’s working and what’s not. 

As part of your return-to-office plan, consider a story-telling workshop that details their personal journeys within the larger narrative of your company’s history. This is a way to recognize their contributions and also show newer employees what sorts of possibilities they have at your company.

For promotions during Covid

Promotion is a form of recognition in and of itself, but it’s time to ask yourself if you were able to properly celebrate the accomplishments of those promoted within the work-from-home context. Actively acknowledging and supporting your best performers lets them know how appreciated they are and is key to their continued success at your company.

In addition to acknowledging their new role within the company, make sure to assess whether they need additional training. Newly promoted employees may not only benefit from general managerial coaching, but also content and workshops that help them to navigate their new role in a (hopefully post-)pandemic work environment.

For new starters during Covid

An onboarding plan designed specifically for the unique situation of those hired during Covid is essential. This group of employees is not returning to the office, but entering it for the first time. Many are eager to get to know other employees and view a new job as an opportunity to build strong relationships with their colleagues; with this in mind, consider setting up a mentoring program. 

A mentoring program gives new hires the opportunity to forge relationships with those who have been with the company longer and provides them with insight into how things are done at your organization, reducing their time to productivity and increasing engagement.

Be aware that not every employee will be returning to the office – to make sure connections are not limited to office workers, consider a program that automatically matches office and remote employees for virtual mentoring sessions.

In addition to interpersonal considerations, new hires will also need an office tour. Despite some being at the company for over a year, this will be their first time sitting at a desk in the office. Make this transition as smooth as possible by already having an ergonomically friendly office space set up for them. Likewise, set aside time during the first week to provide them with conference room booking and software training.

For new starters during the next 3-6 months

It’s a great time to create an onboarding journey for the future. The pandemic has taught us that remote and hybrid work models are possible, and your onboarding process needs to reflect this. Employees starting during the next three to six months will be introduced to your company as it exists both virtually and physically. 

Take note of what has changed in your organization and create an onboarding experience that is up-to-date and leverages the technology you have been using during the pandemic. Consider how you did onboarding earlier, and how it has changed during the pandemic. How can you combine these different experiences to create an enjoyable and comprehensive process for the future?

Final tip: Continuously improve your onboarding process

Your new onboarding will not be the last version, so it’s important to have mechanisms in place that are flexible enough to allow for timely changes without compromising any automation. As your organization advances in its return-to-office plan, you will be able to determine which tasks need to be iterated based on quantitative data such as task completion, but also from qualitative data, e.g. an end-of-onboarding survey. 

The pandemic has forever changed the way we work. Identifying the diverse needs and experiences of your staff is critical to creating a welcome (back) experience that makes all of your employees feel seen and heard. By incorporating the suggestions above, you can craft a plan to provide your employees with a seamless and successful transition back to the office.

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