With lockdown restrictions gradually being eased across the country, Australian workplaces are slowly starting to bring their staff back to work.
While some people are looking forward to getting back into the office, others are not and are already suggesting they are going to miss being at home.
A lot of people are going to go through a period of malaise because they miss working from home. Employers will need to work hard to keep staff energised, connected, engaged and motivated back in the office.
Things won’t just switch back to normal straight away. There are things that employers can do to help settle their staff back into the office and lift their spirits about being back at work:
1. Reward staff with new stationery and desk accessories
Everyone loves new stationery. Whether it be colourful highlighters, some new pens and fineliners, a convenient desk organiser, or desk accessory kits – small things like these can pep up people’s moods and give them a lift.
Handing out a ‘back to work’ pack to staff might be the ideal mood raiser that the office needs.
Stationery isn’t expensive, yet it can create an immediate impact. Call it work shopping. Retail therapy has a way of making people feel better and in this case the employer is paying for it.
Desk and work accessories including gaming keyboards that change colour, interesting mice and mice pads, headsets and monitors are also worth considering.
2. Ask staff to bring in some items from home
Making the transition might be easier if you ask staff to bring in a few items from home. Things such as cushions, a coffee mug, even their favourite throw rug can make their workplace feel more homely.
Encourage people to bring in a plant or an ornament. If we’ve discovered anything during COVID, it’s that people can work from anywhere and be highly productive as long as they’re comfortable. Research shows that plants increase productivity by up to 15 percent.
3. Do creative activities
You’d be surprised how many people are creative. Why not provide staff with brush pens, erasable fineliners, paint markers, coloured pencils, crayons, oil pastel pens and paper and invite them to get creative.
Artwork can be displayed in the kitchen area each week and even framed or show-cased around the office.
Activities like this bring people together, create a sense of community and give people something to look forward to and get excited about. Adult colouring and activities are known to relieve stress and anxiety while exercising the brain and sparking creativity.
4. Bring your pet to work
Everyone loves pets. Research shows that pets in the workplace reduce stress and nurture productivity. While bringing pets to work needs to be well managed, many workplaces implement ‘bring your pet to work’ days with great success.
A fish tank is also an ideal stress reducer. Why not have your own fish tank on your desk or set up a larger aquarium in the office. Fish tanks are known to reduce anxiety levels and also promote higher positive moods.
5. Celebrate milestones
Celebrate milestones across the office. Celebrate your first week or month back at the office. Find out people’s birthdays. Keep a tab on world days. There are lots of things to celebrate. Hand out party hats and blow up a few balloons.
Distribute packets of biscuits, lollipops and other treats. Individually wrapped treats and biscuits are ideal as they can be handed out to people and don’t require sharing.
6. Introduce fitness and wellness equipment
With everyone wanting to get moving again, why not introduce some fun and quirky fitness and wellness items into the workplace.
Sit stand desks and spin cycle desks are not only good for your health, they are easy to use. Spin cycle desks allow people to sit at a desk and work while cycling away below.
Safco Zenergy swivel ball chairs are also ideal. They enhance concentration while supporting posture and balance throughout the day. They are made with an anti-burst exercise ball that provides both movement and comfort.
Workplaces will eventually find a new type of normal, but it is important for all employers to do as much as they can to support staff to feel comfortable and happy back at work.
I have listed a few ideas that customers of Office National have shared with us however I am sure there are many more. It just requires a bit of imagination.
Gavin Ward is the CEO of Office National. Office National is part of the Office Brands network – the largest network of independent stationery stores in Australia with over 160 stores. Brands include Office National, Office Products Depot, and O-Net.