We have retreated to communication over slack or other platforms, email, or zoom meetings where the mute button is only centimeters away, and many of us are feeling unexpected anxiety as we gear up to returning to the office. Even though there’s the excitement of seeing familiar faces and returning to the routine, some of us are trying to remember; “How does small-talk work again?”
Research from the CIPD found that two in five people are anxious about returning to work, and 44% are anxious about the health risks involved. To combat the increased risk of conflict and stress employees are facing due to so many disruptions and uncertainties facing their working lives, focusing on respect and trust is vital.
How you can mentally prepare yourself to return to work
Figure out a hygiene routine that you feel comfortable and stick with it – while abiding by your employer’s guidelines.
It can be overwhelming on the first day back in the office after a period of time off: everyone’s asking how you are, how you’ve been and what you did. Aim to have a personal catch up with a few colleagues from the comfort of your own home before you arrive back in the office so that you don’t feel overwhelmed.
Decide on your own personal boundaries beforehand and let your manager know. Are there things you don’t want to discuss? Or if returning to work for a full five days per week seems too much, could you request a phased return?
How to reintegrate your team back into the office
Let colleagues know what to expect – how many other people will be in simultaneously? Where will each person sit? Will communal areas be open and if so, how should they be used?
Some of your teammates may have had a pretty difficult time while away from work, they could have suffered an illness, a mental health crisis, or a bereavement. Be sensitive when talking about the last few months, and ensure employees know who to reach out to if they need a listening ear.
Aim to reinstate a sense or normality: If friday afternoon drinks at the pub were the norm before, maybe the tradition can be adapted to drinks in the office. Or if your team had a bake sale scheduled, could modify the event to include only shop bought treats for hygiene purposes.
Rebuilding a sense of community and trust will be essential after a period apart, and this can be achieved in both small and large ways.
- Don’t put people on the spot, but create opportunities for colleagues to share what they have been doing and how they are feeling
- Short, office based activities can bring wonderful moments of team-bonding, for example scheduled team coffee-breaks or restarting the office book club.
It’s time to start thinking about rebuilding your teams relationships
Whether these are virtual or in person, fun and games are the best way to get everyone reintroduced before that first day back in the office.
At Komorabi we have a range of corporate team building games – Merlin’s Memories, Prisoners of the Snow Queen, Mission 002 – that we’ve been making even better during these past few months. Our immersive games can take your team on an exciting journey through the streets of London, engaging even the most introverted of team members. By getting staff outdoors and injecting in a little healthy competition, your team will feel reinvigorated to start working together again. We cannot wait to relaunch our new and improved games to get you back on track!