As lockdown eases and workplace restrictions are slowly lifted, a return to the office is starting to look possible for recruitment agencies in the coming weeks or months.
But the transition really isn’t something you can rush into. A mishandled reintroduction to office life could have serious consequences, so you need to spend time carefully planning a slow, gradual transition that gives you and your team time to adapt to the ‘new normal’ in the office.
So, here are a few answers to every recruitment agency owner’s question of the moment: “How the f*ck do I get my recruiters back into the office?”
Ask your recruiters what they want
The planning you’re going to be doing is essentially about ensuring your team’s safety, so it makes sense to ask them what they need from you in order to feel safe.
Send out a quick digital survey to your employees (it’s is free and easy to do using something like Google Forms or Survey Monkey) and ask them what specific precautions would make them feel comfortable enough to come back to the office.
You can then use the responses you get to guide your back-to-office plan. Crowd-sourcing ideas from your team will also encourage buy-in as they know they have had their say in the process.
Stage a staggered return
Unfortunately, there’s no getting around the fact that reducing the number of bodies in the office is the only way you’ll be able to adhere to social distancing guidelines. And these guidelines are there for a reason; the higher the number of people you have in the office, the higher the risk of spreading the virus amongst your team.
A staggered return to the office takes a fair bit of planning, but if you do have a clear strategy that’s well communicated within your whole team, you can make it work.
To do this, you might want to establish different working groups that come to the office each day. How many groups you have will depend on how big your agency is. If you’re a larger agency with different departments, make the groups cross-functional so you have people from different teams present each day.
This also ensures you don’t have too many people from the same teams (who tend to sit close together) in at the same time.
Maintain flexible working
Before lockdown, flexible working was considered a luxury for most recruitment teams, but now it’s a necessity.
Your team will be in a situation right now that they’re well adapted to recruiting from home, so try and keep that momentum going. Even once lockdown is over, home working will still be required to some extent to make office social distancing possible, so you will still need a solid home working policy in place.
It’s also worth noting that countries like Finland have now made it a legal right for employees to choose to work from home and Germany have announced they’re following suit. So, your agency’s new WFH policy might have more long-term importance than you originally thought!
Provide additional health and safety
Are you able to provide your team with equipment that will help them feel safer and prevent the spread of any germs around the office?
For example, it’s a good idea to fit hand sanitisers to walls (particularly beside doorways and in kitchen areas) and encourage everyone to use them frequently throughout the day. Some of your recruiters might prefer to work wearing a mask or gloves. Even if you think this is excessive, it’s important you create an environment where they feel comfortable to do this without feeling self-conscious.
Germs spread quickly around offices even when you’re not dealing with a pandemic, so when you get back in the office, everyone needs to be extra proactive in keeping the place clean. Everyone will need to play their part in order for it to work: anti-bacterial wipes on desks is a good reminder for your recruiters to wipe down their keyboards and phones regularly.
Make office morale a priority
The last few months will have been extremely tough for you, but remember it’s been a real struggle for your team too. No matter how keen your recruiters are to get back to the office, it’s not a move that will come without some anxiety and it will take them time to settle back in.
Not only this, but it’s likely your team will be returning without some of their colleagues as redundancies continue throughout the industry, and this will be pretty sobering for them.
Good vibes in the office are crucial to keeping your team motivated to make money for the business, so taking time to boost morale within your team should be one of your priorities. Download the eBook below to learn how to boost your company culture post-lockdown.
Katie once headed up the Firefish blog and marketing team. She now works as a freelance copywriter and continues to contribute to our award-winning blog.