After weeks of social distancing orders and quarantine, some businesses are slowly beginning to reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether you’re one of these companies or not, your office will open eventually.
Thus, it’s important to think about how to navigate that first day back and how you might welcome the team. If you’re looking to surprise them with a party, some treats or a little extra break time, here are a few ideas to inspire you.
1. Throw a Welcome Back Party
You haven’t seen your employees in person for weeks, if not months now. Celebrate being back in the office together with a welcome back party. Decorate the interior with balloons, streamers and signs and be sure to fill the break room with treats and snacks.
Moreover, you may give each employee a small gift with goodies, a gift card or small office supplies. Expressing your enthusiasm for being together as a team again is bound to be contagious.
2. Host a Team Lunch
Odds are your team members have been cooped up in their homes with very little social interaction during the quarantine. Ease them and yourself back into the social scene by hosting a team lunch.
Consider paying for everyone’s meal and make sure everyone can make it to lunch, whether it be in the office or at a restaurant. This thoughtful act will show your employees you value and appreciate them. It will also help your team bond and pick up where business left off.
3. Organize a Game Room
You might also surprise your employees by redesigning the break room to encourage relaxation and fun. One possible idea is to install a pool table as the room’s centerpiece.
Replace those rickety chairs and tables with matching game room furniture to bring the space together. By taking your break room to the next level, you encourage activities that promote team bonding, making your workers more productive and united in their efforts.
4. Replace Old Office Supplies
While you’re at it, re-imagine office space as well. Is the current layout a little dysfunctional or cluttered? Switch it up by moving desks and furniture around. Take things a step further by updating old office supplies like monitors and copiers that run slowly.
Increasing the reliability of these office supplies will boost your team’s productivity and save your employees time. It can also prevent them from becoming frustrated with malfunctioning equipment.
5. Gift Some Swag
Whether it be T-shirts with your company logo, coffee mugs, water bottles or stickers, your team is sure to love some updated swag. Just be sure to gift high-quality items that your employees can actually use and appreciate.
Otherwise, you’re just giving them cheap things, which isn’t too thrilling of a welcome-back surprise. Ask yourself if you’d want to show off the swag before giving it to your employees to ensure you’re spending your money well.
6. Create a New Program
If you don’t already have some sort of ongoing learning program in place, surprise your employees with one when they return to the office.
This initiative can improve employee performance, boost morale and continuously enhance your team’s skills, allowing them to work independently with less supervision on your part. Plus, a new program will give them something different to look forward to and strive toward as they readjust to office life once again.
7. Declare a Wellness Day
Even if it isn’t the first day back to work, plan a day within the first week or so to promote employee wellness. Consider hiring a masseuse, yoga instructor or stress management coach to help improve your team’s emotional and mental wellness.
By dedicating a day — or most of a day — to wellness, you can help your team feel their best and perform at higher levels while also adjusting to the work-life balance again.
A New Normal
One of the most important lessons businesses and bosses can learn from the coronavirus is that there is no definition of a normal office.
Keep this in mind as you surprise your employees and redefine what work looks like. Use the initial welcome back festivities to signal a new beginning, one that boosts productivity and promises a brighter future.
More than that, continue expressing your appreciation for your workers, and have a little more fun in the office from now on.
Dylan Bartlett, aka, “The Regular Guide,” writes about a broad variety of topics on his blog. Check out Just a Regular Guide for more, or follow him on Twitter @theregularguide for frequent updates!