What are the challenges for employees returning to the workplace after remote working

What are the challenges for employees returning to the workplace after remote working

What are the challenges you can expect with employees returing from working remotely after a long period of time?

Feb 28, 2022, 5:55:32 PM

By Simon Nichols

Ensuring returning employees to the workplace in large number is a real challenge for many businesses, but challenges can you expect and are there any tools you can use to help the situtaion.

1. Overcoming isolation                  

For many employees’ isolation has been an issue during various lockdowns and restrictions, especially if they have limited social interaction or lack of space.

You will find that many employees will struggle coming into a busy environment after working alone – many would have been working in kitchen’s, bedrooms, and any quiet area of the home.

Consider small group activities, perhaps in the open air to ease employees out of any isolation concerns.

2. Working together under one roof                                                          

Even the most the social members of the team may initially find working together with other members of the company difficult when returning to the office. It could be related to changes in the departments, departed employees, working conditions, or just getting used to being so close to so many people.

Perhaps consider bringing teams back slowly and having some small socials events – perhaps hire a food truck as a way of helping teams to socialize.
3. The return of the commute

Before covid-19 millions of employees around the world commuted daily, and it was a part of every daily life. Travelling to work on busy trains, buses and boats will be difficult for many employees, as they become used to peak travel times.

Potentially utilize bike hire or rental schemes or look to see if you can book private transport for the initial period as well as flexible working hours.
4. Leadership struggles
Leading remote workers would have been a challenge for most managers as they come up against a new hurdle to running the department. Reduction in face-to-face meetings, regular contact and overseeing work would have been barriers to many managers when working from home.

Whilst working remotely teams may have changed, employees left the business, or seen an increase in flexible hours. Look at team building activities such as white water rafting to energise the management to the challenges ahead.

5. Integrating new employees
There maybe be a situation where many employees have never actually met their team in person and have only engaged remotely and via video conferencing.

Integrating these members of the team into real life environments can be challenge, so consider if low-key team building activities such as scavenger hunts can be used to engage the team.

Scavenger hunts are low cost, and don’t put employees in high pressure environments.

6. Social interaction is new again

You may have worked closely with your team during remote working via various platforms such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams, but these tools can not 100% replicate real life scenarios.

One element which is difficult replicate is social interaction, you may be having meetings but are you connecting as a team on a social level?

Look for social activities such as beer tasting, cocktail making, or perhaps a cookery class to bring the team together again.

7. Becoming used to face-to-face meetings
For both managers and employees, the pandemic will lead to a huge reduction in the number of face-to-face meetings, especially for customer or client facing departments such as sales or marketing.

Becoming more at ease with face-to-face meetings whether internal or external (such as client meetings or exhibitions) will be a challenge.

Perhaps consider a social activity such as a arts and crafts workshop of a way of easing employees into having meetings again.

8. Using common areas
When you work remotely or have flexible working hours you tend to work in a silo; basically, creating your own safe place.

When returning to the office many employees will find working behind their desks no problem but may have more challenges in shared areas like meeting rooms and dining areas.

Many suppliers will be happy to hire a mobile escape room you can hire for a day and set up in a common area – engaging small groups to work together to solve the puzzles and get used to shared areas.

9. Lack of team building in recent years
Team building during a pandemic is not easy, and has been a challenge for many companies, and even companies that have utilized virtual team building may have not reached the levels of team building that they would desire.

Consider a team building activity such as an escape room where the team are truly challenged, and communication is required.
10. Adapting to new lifestyles
Whilst working from home many employees’ lifestyles will have changed and this needs to be considered with employees returning to the workplace. Many people may have had children, children may have grown up, many may have moved home, taken on more leisure activities such as cookery, volunteering, or exercise.

Consider how these changes may have affected your team and look at some wellbeing activities such as yoga or nutrition workshops to help individuals adjust to the changes as well as options such as flexible working.

Simon Nichols

Head of Partnerships at Evendo

About Simon, he has a background in the London events and hospitality market going back over 20 years. Simon has in an in-depth knowledge of the events market and currently heads up all supplier partnerships at Evendo.

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