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Back to the grind? A return-to-work checklist 

The transition to remote working may have been challenging, but it’s the transition back into the workplace that is the real pickle. Here's a checklist of ideas and actions to get you on the right track.

7 minute read
Back To Work
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Seventy percent of workers surveyed by PwC reported multiple factors preventing them from wanting to return to work. Over 50% cited fear of getting sick as their major worry, while others expressed anxiety over using public transportation, or not having a reliable solution for childcare or homeschooling.

The transition to remote working may have been challenging, but it’s the transition back into the workplace that is the real pickle. To manage this better, we have compiled a check list of ideas and actions to ensure organizations are providing a safe, productive, and harmonious return to work. 

Establish a single source of truth (aka your intranet)

Employers have a duty to take every precaution possible to protect their employees. Depending on your environment, this may include providing personal protective equipment, floor plans, protocols for sick workers, or ensuring employees are distanced in smaller spaces. Your local or federal government may have even issued return to work guidance. All of this information should be easily accessible to all employees. 

With so much uncertainty and conflicting information circulating, it’s critical that employees have a centralized location, like your intranet, to access corporate information, news, and health information. 

Update your remote work policy

The year-long unexpected experiment into remote working was successful for many employers; costs were cut, employees remained productive, and many employees discovered a new work/life balance. Of course there were also negative consequences too as parents juggled homeschooling with parenting, while other employees found they were unable to escape the confines of work. 

As many workplaces are now operating under a hybrid workplace model, it’s important to remember that working from home or working in the office are two very distinct employee experiences. Whatever path you choose for your workplace, make sure all employees are supported and understand their expectations. New policies could include guidance on any proposed reopening plans, and any rules or guidelines associated with it. 

What role does an intranet play in your the workplace?

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Automate ALL your forms

It took the pandemic for many of us to finally ditch paper forms. However, there are still a bunch of organizations with a firm grip on paper (healthcare industry, I’m looking at you!). 

If you haven’t yet automated your forms online, there is still time. Our form builder makes it super easy to set up and manage all forms—and right from within your mobile device. 

As you return to the workplace, consider automating technology requests, vacation approvals, and benefits enrolments. I promise you the amount of time you save will be well worth it!

Simplify health screenings

Depending on your organization, you may be subject to ensuring daily health screenings of your employees. No one wants the cumbersome process of completing this manually, so do your employees a favor and automate it through an online form builder. 

While completing these screenings may feel futile or redundant to the user, it’s a great way to ensure compliance and adherence to regulatory requirements.

Establish a way to immediately notify employees (particularly deskless and front-line employees!)  

Think back to the early days in the pandemic. How did you disseminate information? How did you ensure employees were notified of critical information? And even more importantly, how did you ensure deskless employees were kept informed? 

Our Broadcast feature has been an enormous help to our customers in the last few months, as it has helped them disseminate critical information directly to employees’ phones. 

No one wants to think an urgent incident can occur, but if it does, isn’t it worth knowing your employees are informed as soon as possible? 


Have a business continuity plan

If the last year has taught us anything, it’s the importance of good planning and policies. While we were fortunate to have had an existing business continuity plan, we realize many workplaces weren’t. If you still haven’t created one, now is the time to review and revise the plan to prepare for future emergencies. 

For more information on business continuity plans and what to include in one, check out this blog post: How we used our intranet for business continuity.

Make important news and policy reading mandatory 

Important policies and corporate news require the eyes of all employees. At ThoughtFarmer we have simplified this by making critical content required reading. Our Required Reading feature allows you to designate essential content on your intranet as a mandatory read. 

We’ve been using Required Reading internally on our own intranet for a while now, and we really came to appreciate its value when the pandemic required an updated ‘Work from the Office’ policy. This policy includes critical information like an updated seating plan, occupancy limits, and health and hygiene guidelines. 

A year ago this wouldn’t have been such a big deal, but now, in the midst of the pandemic, it’s hyper-critical that employees review, understand, and acknowledge this information. 

Set-up a ‘who is in the office’ calendar

If your workplace is hybrid, it might not be so obvious as to who is coming into the office and who isn’t. By making use of your intranet calendar, you can create a transparent schedule of which–and how many–employees are coming into the office. Having this information posted for everyone to see also ensures that you won’t mistakenly have too many employees in the workplace at one time. At ThoughtFarmer, we also have a ‘presence indicator’ card which allows employees to see who else is available and online.  

Create a forum for employee concerns

Our customer PCI, has a fantastic way for employees to address their concerns. Through our online form builder, they created a giant red button that immediately allows employees to express concerns to PCI president Drew Clancy. When an employee ‘pushes’ the red button, Drew is instantly notified via email. But it isn’t just concerns that are expressed through this feature, many employees contribute ideas and feedback to improve their workplace.   

Don’t forget your people 

Finally, with so much chaos and uncertainty in the last year, it’s easy to lose sight of the most important thing: your people. 

If you are like us, you probably onboarded several new employees in the last year. I can’t imagine the strangeness of starting a remote job during a pandemic, but we have tried to ensure all employees, new and old, have felt connected to each other in the last 14 months. Whether we fully return to the office or not, we will continue to use our intranet to introduce new employees, provide them with centralized onboarding resources, and help them feel welcome in their first few weeks. 

And while we are speaking of employees, let’s not forget mental health. A return to the workplace is a huge source of anxiety for many of us, so be sure to have a plan for supporting employees through this transition. Ensure all employees have someone they can talk to to express any concerns.