As the lockdown restrictions begin to ease across Australia, employers are facing a new challenge – how to best support their employees as they return to the office.

The second phase of our COVID-19 research found that workers wanted their employer to provide a clearly defined transition plan, involve staff members in the consultation process and listen to their responses, ensure the office environment was safe and generally be open minded and flexible with regards to new ways of working.

Here are some tips to adapt new work preferences as you return to the office to help build employee trust and loyalty:

  • Ask your employees or direct reports what they are looking for – either in a conversation or a quick survey
  • Ease the transition back into the workplace… don’t go straight back to 5 days in the office
  • Spaced out and rotating rosters (less people in the workplace – staff and customers), including staggered start and finish times, as well as breaks
  • Training on how to implement health guidelines to minimise risk of transmission
  • Think about options around moving to a 9-day fortnight to give increased time flexibility to employees
  • Rotation of job responsibilities where possible
  • Provide the ability for employees to purchase more annual leave if they don’t have leave left (or special COVID-19 leave)
  • Provide flexibility with regards to being able to work from home (without a rigorous process) – parents may be reluctant to send their children to after school programs or relatives may not be able to look after them

The transition from home back to the workplace will be an anxious one for many. The best thing employers can do during this time is ensure their staff feel supported and heard by providing regular, open communication every step of the way, and consulting with them on return to office plans.

Find out more about how to support employees in our COVID-19 Research Insights.