At the start of the pandemic, the abrupt shift to working from home caught almost all of us by surprise. But just as suddenly as WFH began, it seems to be at least partially ending: many companies are now starting to shift back to working from the office. And this comes with a slew of new complexities that can have an impact on team morale.

Think about it: after about two years of this, we’ve all managed to master Zoom meetings, have perfected our home office setup, and all agree that sneakily wearing pajama bottoms is totally work appropriate. And while working from home might have led to some downsides (like having scattered teams), there have been plenty of perks for employees.

If your team is partly returning to the office, it’s important to make sure you’re doing it in a way that bolsters team morale, and fosters an environment of psychological safety. It’s a delicate process, but here’s how you can do just that.


Wait, I Was Just Starting To Dig WFH

While some people never got on board with working from home, plenty of us at least got accustomed to this lifestyle. Working from home means no more spending time in traffic or money on gas, it means more time at home with our families, and more energy to do other fun things with the day. 

There is also another important factor to consider when it comes to WFH: safety.  Many employees feel much safer working from home during the pandemic, and now, more than half of workers say they would consider quitting a job if they were asked to return to the office before they felt safe.

Whether your team members absolutely love working from home or simply have gotten used to it, many companies seem to be in agreement that it’s time to at least partially shift back to in-office life. And many companies are finding at least some resistance, and that their employees want to continue working remotely. As a compromise, many offices are turning their sights on a hybrid office model.

Whatever work model your company is going with, there’s one thing that’s clear: any sort of change from the current WFH model can lead to a dent in team morale, if not approached with care. 


Return-to-Office Blues

We’ve heard of pandemic-related work phenomena like “Zoom fatigue,” but now, employers and employees are dealing with another issue: return-to-office resistance. There are different types of resistance employees might be exhibiting, and it ranges from “active resistance” (where an employee pushes back) to “active supporter” (when they advocate for the change).

For workplaces that have already made the shift back to some sort of in-person work, there are some clear challenges. One survey revealed that “45% of employees who’ve returned to the workplace feel they didn’t have a choice,” leading to dissatisfaction. And of those, 35% said they’re more likely to want to leave their job. 

It’s clear that returning to the office can be a difficult transition for many employees. In order to keep up company morale, leaders should take certain steps to keep their people motivated, encouraged, and connected during this tumultuous time. 


5 Tips For Keeping Team Morale High

Okay, so you want to masterfully navigate your return-to-office transition. While every company is different and has specific needs, here are some tips for keeping team morale high during the process.


1. Make it a conversation 

Firstly, it’s important that your employees at least feel heard during this transition process. As we outlined a bit earlier, when employees feel like they don’t have a choice in the matter, they’re much more likely to feel dissatisfied, and even more likely to want to quit.

The reality is that returning to the office might simply be necessary for your company’s success. But you can still make this a conversation with your employees, to gauge how they feel. 

You can go about this several ways. You can conduct anonymous employee surveys, so that your people feel like they have a safe space to share their thoughts. You can also host an open forum, in the form of a group video chat, where people can share openly. This might also be a great way to foster psychological safety, where people feel like they can voice their opinions without being judged or negatively impacted.


2. Be willing to be flexible

Just as workplace needs have changed, so have the needs of your employees. While there may be very specific and concrete reasons why team members need to be at the office in-person at certain times, try to look for areas where you provide flexibility. If you can offer some sort of hybrid option that satisfies some of the needs of your employees, that can definitely help keep team morale high during this time.

Flexibility can look like a lot of things. It might look like offering different options of hybrid work models, for example. If you’re still finding your way through this hybrid world (as many companies are), you can be honest and transparent with where your company is at. For example: don’t promise something you can deliver, but be honest about being willing to adopt a work policy on a trial basis.


3. Be ready for hybrid teams

Hybrid teams have different needs than remote teams, and as a business, you need to be ready to accommodate hybrid teams. This means you need to have hybrid work solutions and new answers to questions. How are you going to host a video meeting if some of your staff is in-person, and some of your staff is virtual? How are you going to work to unify teams that are hybrid, so that there’s not an us-versus-them mentality when people are in the office?

Being ready for hybrid teams means having technological solutions in place that can accommodate the needs for hybrid teams. It might also mean having some sort of plans in place that ensure that one group of people isn’t favored over another. For example, you don’t want an employee to feel like they’re not being considered for a big project because they’re working from home more than their counterpart. 


4. Put fun things on the calendar

Who doesn’t love coming to work when the boss buys lunch, it’s casual Friday, or when there’s an in-office happy hour? In order to keep team morale high, invest in fun things that will get your team excited about being there. 

Putting fun things on the in-office calendar gives everyone something to look forward to, and it also is a way to incentivize coming into the office. Plus, these sorts of events are great for team bonding. These activities can be formal, informal, professional, or relaxed. Even a lunch-and-learn activity keeps the day a little more interesting. 

You can also look for ways to make these fun events hybrid events. This means finding a way for your at-home employees to participate, so they feel like they’re just as part of the team as those who are in the office that day. 


5. Organize team building activities 

We might be a little biased, but we think one of the best ways to keep team morale high when partly returning to the office is to organize amazing team building activities. Team building activities are specifically designed to be fun. They get your people talking to one another, help them unwind together, and can ultimately lead to stronger teams.

Team building activities can be in-person, remote, or for hybrid teams. Leaders can organize awesome team building activities for their people on their own (like Zoom games, for example). But you can also call in professionals that throw ridiculously fun virtual and hybrid events (like us!). 

Here at Kabloom, we’ve designed some incredible team building events that are perfect for virtual or hybrid teams. These include things like virtual karaoke that will get everyone singing, a wildly entertaining magic show, and a pub trivia quiz that will have your team members facing off in some friendly competition.

Interested in seeing how our events can help keep team morale sky-high during the transition back to the office? Contact us today to find out how we can curate the perfect event for your team.