Remote worker checks watch on way back to the office

Back to the Office: 7 Ways to Transition Staff Hired as Remote Workers


Whether it’s weeks away or months away, many CEOs and other business leaders are making the decision to return to the office. More people are getting vaccinated and infection rates are on the decline, creating a strong case for returning to a collaborative, in-person work environment.

Perhaps you’ve been successful in maintaining a strong company culture while working remotely during the pandemic, but there’s no denying that the first days and weeks back in the office will be a journey to the land of nostalgia for longtime employees. However, staff that were hired into remote positions during the pandemic will benefit from some planning. They’ll be meeting co-workers face to face, possibly for the first time, and getting to know office details big and small, such as where to go for lunch, how to book conference rooms, and how to connect to Wi-Fi.

Here are seven ways to transition staff hired as remote workers into the office for the first time. Hint: It also works for seasoned employees who got a little rusty over the past 15 months.


1. Plan an Orientation

Do people hired during the pandemic know about emergency procedures, where printers are located, or how to find the nearest restroom? Even if you held a socially distanced orientation on day one, employees who have always worked remotely might feel disoriented. You could have only covered the basics in your initial introduction and that might have been several months ago, so having a solid plan for reorienting newer employees will help them get up to speed quickly.


Person in an office wearing a mask while working


2. Discuss Post-Pandemic Policies

Will there be morning forehead scans? Are masks required in the office? Will you continue to practice social distancing? Even if you had a system in place before shutting down the office, you should review post-pandemic policies with more recent hires. If policies have been updated since March 2020, you’ll also want to circulate them to the entire office before returning to your building.


3. Share Network Access Information and Wi-Fi Passwords

This may sound like a no-brainer but ignoring it could lead to 20+ people lined up outside IT on your first morning back: Send network, building code, and parking garage access codes along with Wi-Fi information to each employee regardless of their tenure. Many offices have been operating remotely for over a year. During that time, established employees might have forgotten their passcodes, and newer employees might not have received them at all.


4.Plan Office Space

Will people who haven’t been vaccinated follow separate social distancing guidelines? Has your staff grown while your company was working from home? Having desk and office assignments implemented before staff arrive will reduce anxiety, especially for new employees who will already feel out of place. Some companies who outgrew their space during the pandemic are opting for hoteling scenarios combined with dedicated work-from-home days. This helps whole teams regularly meet in the office even if no one will work onsite the full week.


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5. Be Clear About Hybrid Schedules

Some companies might choose to return to the office part-time, or they might stage in-office work so certain teams can meet on specific days. Unlike remote work where schedules can be more flexible, encourage employees to make the most out of time in the office. Ask them to schedule personal activities during work-from-home days and keep your time together as a team focused and productive.


6. Focus on Inclusion

Even if they’ve built relationships through Zoom with long-standing employees, staff transitioning from remote work will benefit from an inclusion plan – especially BIPOC and LGBTQ+ folks. Introduce them to peers who they can safely talk to about any office issues. Let them know the steps for handling micro- and macro-aggressions. Make sure facilities are setup to accommodate any newly hired remote employees with disabilities. If leadership lacks diversity, discuss how issues of race, power, and gender are resolved within the company and take the time to review your culture and values.


Room in a daycare with chairs and toys


7. Review Your Benefits Package

Waking up earlier and arranging childcare will be among the most difficult obstacles for employees heading back to the office. You can’t do a lot to help people adjust their sleep schedules, but remind recent hires about any childcare or other benefits you may have offered them during recruiting. Do you also partially reimburse for commuting expenses or parking? These are benefits remote workers haven’t accessed before now. Send them information ahead of your return to the office to let them know all the ways you can assist them during this transition.


These are just a few examples of things to consider when you transition staff hired as remote workers back to the office. Create your own list by reviewing common procedures and practices and share them with new staff. Send them tips on how to reacclimate to office life. With a little planning, your full team will be operating at full steam in no time.

by: Jason Harless
June 08, 2021