5 Questions Companies Need to Ask About the New Normal
In the United States, the vaccine has been widely distributed, reducing the risk of the coronavirus spreading more rampantly. Many states have eased social distancing requirements and some offices are starting to welcome back employees. People are slowly getting used to hugging others, shaking hands, and living without masks
But does this mean we’re back to normal? Is life simply going to return to the way it was before COVID-19 changed the way we live and work together?
At Grin Events, we believe the answer is both yes and no. For our corporate clients, this potential return requires intentional conversations and policies about how and when employees come back together.
If you are a business owner, you might be asking yourself if now is the right time to ask employees to return. What about the new remote employees you hired during the pandemic – how do you allow them to feel just as much a part of the team when other co-workers will get back to in-person meetings and interactions.
There is no one size fits all approach to helping your employees thrive in this changing landscape, so here are five questions worth asking about the new normal:
1. Can we simply return to the way things were?
This is the most important question you can ask but also has the broadest potential answers. The reality is you need to continue monitoring best practice and guidelines from health officials during this transition period. Unfortunately, people are still being negatively impacted by COVID-19, so recognizing there is still some risk and threat to employee health should be factored into any company policies made about this time. Simply going back to the way things were before the pandemic might seem appealing, but doesn’t account for the many workplace nuances now present that help value and protect your employees.
2. How do we decide if and when to return to the office?
As we all know, the coronavirus didn’t suddenly disappear once vaccines were distributed and businesses were allowed to reopen. Consider polling your employees with their comfort levels about returning to your office(s). Different families will have made various decisions about vaccines, the safety of returning to groups and crowds, and more, so understand that your employees won’t all have the same answer. Talk to managers about how they feel they can best support their team while still maintaining productivity. Some might decide to stay remote long-term, while others want to return to day-to-day office life. Taking a pulse of your workforce will ensure you’re making an informed decision.
3. What safety measures can be put in place to create a sense of comfort?
If you decide that employees need to come back to the office in person, consider putting protocols in place that give people confidence you are prioritizing their health. Consider offering flex time for non vaccinated employees to get tested on a regular basis, or a policy that asks non vaccinated team members to continue wearing masks. Upgrade your air filtration system or make a company-wide mandate that asks anyone with any kind of symptoms to stay at home. Again, every company will need to determine what measures make their employees feel valued and protected.
4. How can we support ongoing mental and emotional health?
Beyond physical health, the pandemic affected us all emotionally. From knowing family or friends who passed away to facing economic hardships, companies should recognize the lasting mental health implications of a year-long-plus lockdown. Consider implementing wellness programs that offer individual and group support to your teams. Or, hold workshops that allow employees to openly talk about how the pandemic affected them. The goal is to create a sense of psychological safety for employees to bring their whole selves to work.
5. How do we move forward in a hybrid work environment?
Many businesses will face the challenge of a hybrid workforce, managing both in-person and remote workers. This may cause a sense of distance and isolation for employees who miss out on water cooler conversations, lunches, and in-person meetings. Once travel restrictions are lifted, consider bringing your whole team together for a strategy and vision offsite. Invest in technology that allows for video conferencing in all of your meeting spaces. Send care packages to remote employees who can’t attend in-person appreciation gatherings. Or look into hybrid event solutions that allow for both in-person and virtual attendance.
These are just five topics to consider as the world opens back up. The key is being thoughtful and intentional about the new season we find ourselves in.
If you are looking for ways to connect your team – in-person or virtually – Grin Events is here to help. Our professionally hosted team building (we call it Team Connecting) events are designed to make it easy for employers to bring some fun into the workplace.
Give us a call or email us today to get a quote.