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4 Ways To Make The Great Re-Entry Work For Your Employees

4 Mins read

At long last, it’s happening: Companies are beginning to open their offices back up. I’ve heard from leaders across industries that employees are feeling everything from excitement to ambivalence to anxiety. Some employees are anxious about being together again after so much time working from home in isolation. Here are 4 ways to make the great re-entry work for your employees. […]

NOTES: 4 Ways To Make The Great Re-Entry Work For Your Employees

Connect, communicate, and commit: One-size-fits-all, back-to-office model might not work. Managers are to lead discussions with their team members to connect and rebuild rapport with team members who’ve been separated by place and space for over a year. Each team define a set of guidelines on how to work together in this new phase. For example, Udemy is introducing a Quarterly Work Agreements where teams can set clear expectations about working hours and how work should get done each quarter.

Upskill, upskill, upskill: Employees will need a fresh set of skills to thrive in this dramatically altered work environment.

Don’t dictate the work system: This is an opportunity for leadership teams to create processes by which teams can create systems that are self-organized and self-managed.

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Provide ongoing support and resources: From the moment the pandemic began, forward-thinking companies provided the support and resources employees needed. First and foremost, this meant offering them mental health support during this unprecedented, stressful time. It also meant giving them the flexibility they required to maintain as healthy-as-possible work-life balance.

Now in this new phase, organizations should continue to be responsive about providing the support employees need. 

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How to Offer Your Staff the Right Kind of Flexibility

The word “flexible” is broad, and could mean a flexible location, flexible hours, an ethos of flexibility, and many other things that is peculiar to each organization and employee.

Consider these tips to determine what flexibility means to your workforce so you can make sure that policy changes are relevant. But first, take a step back and look at what workplace flexibility could mean.

What Flexibility Means In 2021

Flextime. This can be remote working and ability to set hours outside of the traditional 9-to-5 timeslot. Or, allowing compressed work schedules, which let employees complete the usual 40 hours in fewer than five workdays.

Location. Ability to work outside of the office, like during the pandemic. Or in a hybrid work environment where employees have control over how many days a week they show up in person.

Reduced schedule. Programs such as job sharing and phased retirement give employees a chance to step back from full-time employment while still working at your organization.

Paid Time Off (PTO). A generous—or even unlimited—amount of paid for time, when employees have the freedom to take (and use) the time they need to be productive (doing work or non work related activity).

Finding Out What Flexibility Means To Your Staff

1. Gather information. Start by conducting a survey to get a sense for what your staff wants out of a flexible workplace. Ask specifically about the above workplace policies, what they’ve liked or haven’t liked about remote work, and how their productivity has been affected since having the freedom that remote work provides.

You can continue the conversation by setting up company town hall meetings, focus groups, or one-on-one discussions to dig deeper into what your staff wants.

2. Consider industry trends. On top of employee preferences, there might be certain flexible work policies that are more relevant to your organization than others. For example, if onsite work is required, you can’t offer remote work but could still opt for flextime.

You can also ask other organizations if they’ve taken steps to make work more flexible for their employees and consider how those policies would apply to your own workforce.

3. Shadow employees and reassess. Once you implement your own brand of workplace flexibility, see how your workforce responds. How has productivity been affected? What is the feeling around the office? Have you noticed any roadblocks that you didn’t consider during your knowledge-gathering stage?

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No One Wants To Work Too Much. So Why Do We Do It?

Many people have an inaccurate beliefs about their workload. Here are a few pointers to address this.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Get more done in the same amount of time by learning to work more efficiently. Better manage distractions and attention seeking activities. Learning a comprehensive workflow management system is another way to get more done in less time. 

Ultimately your own work-life balance is completely up to you. No one can “give you” better balance. You have to take it.

Question Assumptions

Stop thinking that other people expect you to be available all the time. Also, trying to conform to the expectations that other people have for you is exhausting and ultimately futile.

You Have a Habit of Distraction

Your most important resources are not your time or your money or even your attention. Your most important resources are your body and your mind.

Manage checking your communication channels during workday every 1-3 minutes. Else, you get conditioned and wont be able to “shut it off,” workday, work week or at your personal time.

You Have Control

Studies show that a boss’s work-life balance is an important factor in the work-life balance of their employees, and that if all better utilize downtimes, everyone will likely to be physically and emotionally healthier.

Recommended: The Third Space according to Adam Fraser is the transitional gap in between what we do. It’s not what we do, it’s what we do in between what we do that is most important.


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