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Navigating the Return to Office & Hybrid Events 🏢

Navigating the Return to Office & Hybrid Events 🏢

With the majority of individuals able to get vaccinated, the return to office is on the horizon for some companies. It can be a daunting idea as it has been over a year since the full team has been in office and there are many health regulations to follow.

We have put together some tips and resources to help you with the return to work experience and how to successfully run hybrid events. This will help to ensure a healthy and productive team back in the office.

It is normal to feel overwhelmed as it is something new that teams are facing and there isn’t a set rule book on the best way to do it as it can vary from office to office. You are not alone feeling this way!

TLDR: In this blog post you will find tips on how your team can return to the office safely and ensure employees feel safe while working in-person. There is also a list of best practices for the workplace, hybrid events, and safe in-person events.
There are also a few event ideas for both hybrid events and in-person events to accommodate teams of any size and location.

How to Return to Office Safely 🙌

With the plans for returning to the office becoming more realistic and attainable, there is the question of how to navigate this change safely. Some companies have already begun the process of bringing essential employees back to the office in stages and they have great insights on how to do it properly. Currently, 72% of employees want access to a physical office location.

  • Before even planning out your team’s return to the office, it’s important to look at the region-specific COVID regulations where your offices are located. COVID regulations vary from place to place so you want to make sure you are following all the rules to keep your employees safe.
  • The next step is to gather information from your employees. The information you collect can vary, depending on privacy policies, but ultimately it should capture:
  • How do employees feel about the return to the office?
  • Would they feel comfortable coming to work in person? If so, how often?
  • Are they vaccinated?
  • Any tools or resources that would help to make them feel more comfortable and safe?
  • What can the company do to make the return to office experience positive for employees?

Best Practices for the Workplace 🏢

Here are some best practices gathered from other companies’ experiences who have already begun the transition back into their office:

  1. Involve your employees in the discussions surrounding the return to office as it greatly affects them and they will appreciate being involved in the decision-making process.
  2. Start slowly and gradually allowing small groups of essential employees to come into the office. This will ensure everything is manageable and work out all the kinks before the entire team is back in the office.
  3. Ensure only healthy employees are coming into the office. If they are feeling sick, they need to stay home.
  4. Make sure employees keep a safe distance apart. This may include spreading out desks and setting a safe maximum capacity for meeting rooms that follow safety guidelines.
  5. Have an action plan on how to react quickly if an employee gets sick in the office.
  6. Have a set of rules and guidelines posted around the office and/or emailed to all employees. This may include mask protocols, capacity limits, and workplace policies.

How to Make Employees Feel Safe 👫

Now that you have a list of the workplace best practices, here is how you can apply them to make employees feel safe coming back to work in person.

  1. Send out a survey or ask employees each morning before they enter the office if they are feeling sick or have been feeling sick within the last 14 days. If they answer yes, deny them entry into the office and encourage them to stay home. This screening process will make other employees feel safe knowing that only healthy employees are certified to be in the office.
  2. Make adjustments to the workplace to accommodate spaces for employees to work that are a safe distance from other employees. Rearrange office spaces and desks to be more spread out and set capacity limits for meeting rooms, lunchrooms, and bathrooms.
  3. Outline mask protocols for the workplace to employees feel safe and are aware when they need to be wearing a mask.
  4. Provide employees with useful tools and resources to make them feel safe and comfortable. Some examples include Envoy and Skedda.

Best Practices for Hybrid Event 🖥

  1. For hybrid events ensure employees have access to the physical location address and/or a virtual link for remote employees.
  2. Make a point of ensuring the virtual audience feels included and is acknowledged.
  3. If you are streaming the event make sure the cameras are set up and tested prior to the event starting.
  4. If you are recording the event to share with remote employees afterward, ensure they know where they can find the event recording link. To make the virtual attendees feel more engaged and included, host a showing where everyone can watch the event recording together and have a discussion.
  5. Be prepared for all aspects of the hybrid event and ensure there is an event facilitator who is in-person at the event location to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Hybrid Event Ideas 🌟

Here are some hybrid event ideas that will engage your entire team, regardless if they are in the office or working remotely. These events are either asynchronous or can be streamed for those who are working remotely.

  • Interactive Workshops - i.e. goal planning workshop, gardening class, calligraphy class, meditation workshop, or new skill workshop.
  • Movie Club - each week assign a movie to watch and then have a virtual lunch discussion on it at the end of the week.
  • Fireside Chats & Panel Discussions - with ERG leaders, team leaders, CEO, non-profit organizations, or guest speakers.
  • Asynchronous Slack Challenges - fitness challenge, hydration challenge, Dad joke challenge, or cooking challenge.
  • Asynchronous Museum Tour (virtually) - get a team together and take a tour around some of the world's most prestigious Museums.
  • Asynchronous Team Cookbook - this is a great resource for making one.

Best Practices for Safe In-Person Events 😷

  1. Monitor COVID guidelines for the location leading up to the event.
  2. Plan events outdoors whenever applicable to allow employees to be more spread out and not contained in a room.
  3. If you have a large team, schedule various blocks of time throughout the day so then smaller groups of employees can come out to the in-person event at different times.
  4. Create a list of rules and guidelines for those who are coming to the event, such as mask guidelines, safety measures, parking instructions, etc.
  5. If your in-person event is indoors, make sure to follow the maximum capacity guidelines and try to have open airflow.
  6. If your in-person event is outdoors, make sure to provide items that would normally be at indoor locations like hand sanitizer stations and masks.

In-Person Event Ideas 🎉

Here are some in-person event ideas that will bring your team together safely. When running or planning these events, ensure health and safety protocols are considered and followed.

  • Outdoor 5km - if there’s an open park nearby, encourage your team to get active by running or walking a 5km together (but socially distanced).
  • Water Activities - swimming, canoeing, or surfing is a great way to bring the team together for an event but still keep everyone safe. If you have a large team, create multiple time slots for various groups to keep the number of people together at once manageable.
  • Outdoor Yoga/Fitness Class - If there is a large field near your office space, host an outdoor yoga session or fitness class for employees to participate in. Everyone can be very spread out and have their own personal space.
  • Outdoor Picnic - Another great outdoor event idea and everyone can have their own space in a public park or field
  • Drive-In Movie - Drive-ins are a great way to bring your team together for an in-person event but keep everyone safe as they watch the movie from their car.

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👉 Check out our full list of workplace culture and holiday events for 2022 here! 👈