Returning To Work: How HR Can Plan For The Transition

Posted by Noel • February 8, 2022 • 6 min read

If you are returning to work, it can be daunting. All departments are going to face particular struggles and challenges, but few will feel the push as much as human resources does. It’s going to be difficult, there’s no denying that.

There are specific reasons why you might want your employees back together in the same place again. However, as we are getting closer to an ending of the COVID-19 pandemic, employees are going to want different things. Some employees are looking forward to getting back to the office again – others are dreading it. Whether you are going back to the office full time, some of your workforce is remote, or most of your office is remote with some people returning for in-office work, you need to start planning as soon as possible.


HR is tasked with making the office a fun, desirable place to work. That’s hard to do! Even worse, there’s no blueprint for it – we’ve never done something like this. Some 68% of employees want to work from home full time. As people are looking for jobs, more will be looking for remote placements. Those who aren’t given that choice may start looking for openings where they can. The more you think about it, the more complications arise.

So what can HR do in situations where they have to return to in-office work for some reason, they don’t want to hire dozens of new people, and they need to do it on a budget while getting the work done? The truth is, there are a lot of little things that you’ll need to do before returning to work.

If you find yourself in this situation, here are a few strategies you can try.

Talk To Your Employees Like People

As an HR leader, you are expected to approach situations with tact, care, and compassion. Returning to work is going to be a stressful and scary experience for some people. We’ve all just been through a lot and you want to ensure that your employees feel heard and cared for – after all, they’ve spent a lot of the last two years feeling helpless and alone. You cannot act like this hasn’t happened, nor can we pretend that we understand what everyone is feeling.

If you have singular employees that are particularly hesitant to return to work, it might be a good idea to have one-on-ones with them before they start again. Find out their specific fears and see if you can address them. Encourage them to share any fears with you, their managers, or the C-suite.

Some great ways to broach the return to work conversation include:

  • What did you learn while working remotely that will transfer to your return to work?
  • What did you miss about working in the office? What will you miss about working at home?
  • What makes working remotely hard? What makes it easier?
  • What scaffolding do you need to succeed as you return to work?

You might have a list of concerns or worries from various employees. Some will worry about vaccination statuses or health as they return home. Others will worry about sending their children to daycare again. Some might even have problems with their changed appearance over the last two years. You will need to address these with as much care and tact as possible.

Tell Them The Why You’re Returning To Work

Why are you returning to the office in the first place? If you can’t answer that question right now, then you need to do some digging and find out the answer. Even if the answer is just “the C-Suite wants to come back.” 

We know that working in-person does add some value, so think about some of those reasons for your own company. Why does it make sense for your company to return to work now? When you formulate your answer, you want to be complete and clear. Think about some of these aspects:

  • What will employees gain from coming back to work in person?
  • How will this change collaboration with any employees who choose to work from home or who must continue to work from home?
  • Are the “return to work” rules and guidelines applicable to everyone. If so, why? If not, why?
  • How will returning to work impact company culture?
  • Are your employees going to be given a transition period?

Try to answer these questions before your employees ask them. Include this information in a “return to the office” email series, say it aloud in a video, drop it in Slack, or just post the information somewhere employees can read it.

Offer More Training Before, During, & After Returning To Work

Returning to the office is scary, especially for people who have dealt with health issues over the last few years. One of the best ways to convey safety and security is to build new training modules going over new workplace safety, including cleanliness, hygiene, and illness-related rules. Some people have simply forgotten how to interact with other people.

But that isn’t the only training you should offer. Employees want to learn more and we know that many organizations have fallen behind on training, upskilling, and developing their employees.

Workers want to learn more, develop their skills, and become better employees. By giving them the tools they need to learn more – and the opportunities to do it – you will help them transition back into the traditional workplace.

If you need a learning management system, or you want to revamp the one you have to meet everyone in your remote, hybrid, and in-person workplaces, consider learning more about Trakstar Learn. You can schedule a free, personalized demo with our team today

Make Your Return To Work Transition Smoother With The Trakstar Platform

As you transition back to work, some of the initiatives and methods you used over the last few years will work extremely well – and some will fall flat. Even worse, the methods you used before the pandemic may not work either. You could be transitioning to a completely different HRMS or you’ll need better tools to get your company where you want to go.

At Trakstar, we’ve developed a hire-to-retire platform that helps you automate, organize, and accelerate the most important tasks you have, including bringing on new people to complete your team, training new and existing employees, and reviewing performance to ensure that everyone is where they need to be. We can help you with all of the above or just the pieces where you need support. For more information on how Trakstar can help ease the return to work transition and ensure your employees feel supported and understood, schedule a quick demo with our team today.

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