A group of people (three women and one man) stand in a circle and laugh. The two women in the middle of the photo are wearing blue lanyards; a card at the end of one of the lanyards reads "CONFERENCE." In the background, other groups of people, some of whom are also wearing blue lanyards, can be seen.
A meet-and-greet is a great way to welcome employees back to the office while also welcoming new hires to the team. — Getty Images/jeffbergen

As employees return to the office after a long stint of remote work, there are many ways you can make this transition happen more smoothly. Use the following six tips to welcome employees back to work and help them feel more comfortable in the office.

[Read more: How to Create a Positive Hybrid Office Culture]

Host a meet-and-greet

It’s likely that you added on a few new team members during the pandemic. That means, up until now, these new employees have probably only interacted with other team members through videoconferencing software.

Once everyone returns to the office, you have an excellent opportunity to help your new employees get to know their team. Host a meet-and-greet on the first couple of days back in the office and allow everyone to meet each other in person.

Not only is this great for team morale, but it also helps new hires feel more accepted. Introducing themselves at a Zoom meeting can only go so far.

Have small gifts ready

Make your employees feel appreciated by having a couple of small gifts ready for them at their desks. You don’t have to go overboard with this — even gifts costing $10 or less can be a nice surprise.

Some good examples include:

  • Gift cards.
  • An office mug.
  • A small box of chocolates or candy.
  • A written note or card.

Doing this will show employees that you care about them being back and appreciate them giving up some of the flexibility of remote work.

Give employees time to socialize

The first week or two back in the office may not be incredibly productive, and that’s okay. Part of the benefit of being in the office is the increased social interaction.

Give your workers a little extra time to socialize and slack off with one another as you get back into the swing of things. Of course, some work needs to get done, but if employees want to spend a little extra time catching up, let them.

In the first weeks and months back in the office, it's important to be flexible with time management and scheduling needs.

Try a team-building activity

At the end of the first week, schedule a team-building activity like an escape room or a scavenger hunt. A team-building exercise can do wonders for office morale and help foster a more resilient workplace.

And a team-building event gives employees an extra opportunity to socialize, as well as something to look forward to. Knowing you have a fun event planned for the end of the week could help employees keep focused in the days leading up to it.

Be flexible with time management and scheduling

Even though your employees are back in the office, they may not be fully reacclimated to the 9-to-5 schedule. In the first weeks and months back in the office, it's important to be flexible with time management and scheduling needs.

For example, you may have several parents who need to spend extra time taking care of their children while setting up daycare services. Alternatively, some employees may want to practice a hybrid schedule where they work from home some days and come to the office on other days.

In each of these different scenarios, try to be open-minded and work with your employees on their preferences. These strategies could lead to increased productivity and a better workplace culture.

[Read more: How to Develop a Hybrid Office Policy]

Take surveys

Finally, you might want to survey your employees and give them an opportunity to provide feedback. This is a time of change for everyone, and things will be different than they were before the pandemic.

Maintain an open-door policy and use surveys to see what people want modified in terms of scheduling, office layout and more. You might be surprised how helpful your employees can be when it comes to making your office a more enjoyable place to be.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Follow us on Instagram for more expert tips & business owners’ stories.

To stay on top of all the news impacting your small business, go here for all of our latest small business news and updates.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

Where business leaders go to grow

CO— is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Published December 21, 2021