To plan our return to the office, we need the support of our people. The post-COVID return is an emotional issue, touching on family, health, and mental wellness.
To understand how your people feel and what they need while maintaining confidentiality, we recommend using surveys: private, anonymous, and honest.
Using surveys, you can keep your finger on the pulse without putting people on the spot. Your back-to-work survey can include open-ended questions to encourage more open and nuanced communication, in addition to Likert scale and multiple-choice questions.
To help you bring your team back safely and efficiently, we put together a 19-question survey template addressing some of the hardest questions surrounding the big return, including faith in the organization and attitude towards WFH.
Listen to your employees
When putting together your back-to-the-office turn plan, build in time to address employee’s questions. Recent research has found that close to 60% of employees surveyed are fearful of contracting COVID-19 if they return to work. Managers should take employee concerns seriously and do whatever they can to help employees feel safe.
To prevent unnecessary stress and anxiety, try to let employees themselves decide when they’re coming back. This should go without saying but, if an employee shares that they are vulnerable to the virus, take additional steps to keep them safe. If a team member shares that they are struggling with mental health issues, guide them to appropriate resources and let them work from home for as long as necessary (or possible).
Back-to-the-office survey template
Surveys are a fantastic tool that maintains employee privacy while providing you with timely, honest data. Your back-to-the-office survey can include all or some of these questions, but should give employees the opportunity to share opinions on all aspects of their return.
What to ask about in the survey
The survey should touch on a broad range of topics surrounding the company, working from home, and any return-related anxieties.
- Ask how the WFH experience has been for them to date, and whether employees feel they can continue working from home productively. This is also an opportunity to ask what your employees need in to thrive both at home or in the office.
- Determine what fears and challenges people are facing as the crisis winds down, both generally and specifically related to coming back to work. This may include asking whether employees are comfortable leaving their families yet, how fearful they are of infection, and whether they will be able to comply with hygiene requirements such as temperature checks and wearing face guards.
- Assess whether employees are satisfied with management and workflow. This should include questions about how available managers are to their people and how comfortable employees are approaching their managers.
- Finally, get an overall understanding of employee morale by asking if they are confident that the organization will recover from this crisis and what they like or dislike about their jobs.
A back-to-work survey can help HR determine whether employees are prepared to come back to work after an extended period of working from home and which employees to bring back first.
Now, the questions:
Faith in the organization (2 questions)
- On a scale of 1 to 5, how confident are you in your company’s ability to overcome the operational challenges caused by COVID-19?
- On a scale of 1 to 5, how informed does your company make you feel about changes and measures taken in response to COVID-19?
Work-from-home productivity (4 questions)
- Do you feel your current work-from-home environment is comfortable and enables you to be effective and productive in your work?
- No, I do not feel at all productive in my current environment
- No, I get work done, but I don’t feel I’m performing to my highest potential
- Yes, I feel equally productive as compared to my normal office setting
- Yes, I feel more productive than in my normal office setting
4. Do you feel you have the equipment and resources you need to perform your job effectively from home?
- No, I feel completely unprepared
- No, I don’t have everything I need, but I can get by
- Yes, I have most of what I need
- Yes, I have everything I need to work from home
5. On a scale of 1 to 5, do you feel your current work environment is conducive to working from home in the long-term?
6. Do you believe you are able to perform your job well while working from home?
- I am not able to perform my job well at home
- I am able to perform my job sufficiently at home
- I am able to go above and beyond while working from home
Project management and communication (5 questions)
7. Do you believe your current tasks and priorities are well-defined?
- I do not fee that I have a clear direction at work
- My tasks are somewhat defined, but they are not clear enough
- My current tasks and priorities are very well defined
8. Has your manager been available to you when needed?
- No, I have a lot of trouble getting in touch with my manager
- I can sometimes get in touch with my manager when needed
- Yes, I can often get in touch with my manager when needed
- I can always get in touch with my manager when needed
9. Are you able to communicate regularly and effectively with your teammates?
- No, I can’t communicate with my teammates at all.
- No, I have very little communication with my teammates
- Sort of, there is some communication with my teammates
- Yes, I communicate with my teammates often
- Yes, I regularly and effectively communicate with my teammates
10. On a scale of 1 to 5, how comfortable are you attending to your family as needed during work hours?
11. Do you feel comfortable approaching your manager regarding personal matters?
- No, not at all
- Sometimes, depending on the subject
- Yes, I feel very comfortable
Reasons to come back to the office (3 questions)
12. What are you most looking forward to about returning to work?
- Getting back into my regular work routine
- Seeing and working side-by-side with my colleagues
- Being able to communicate face to face
- Being able to renew my work-life balance
13. What is your favorite aspect of our job?
- The work I do
- The compensation and benefits package offered
- My colleagues, I enjoy working with the people in my company
- Our company culture (i.e. office outings, catered lunches, flexible hours, etc.)
14. After this time period working from home, would you prefer to be able to maintain your routine of working from home?
- Yes, I actually prefer to work from home regularly
- Yes, but it would be better to be able to come into an office once or twice a week
- No, I prefer to work from the office
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Post-COVID health and safety (5 questions)
15. On a scale of 1 – 5, when the timing is right, how comfortable are you to get back to working at the office?
16. What would you need to feel safe coming back to work at the office? (Open Ended)
17. As part of a routine, before entering into the office it will be a requirement to measure your temperature and report it to your employer. On a scale of 1-5, how comfortable are you with this requirement?
18. When returning to the office, people may need to wear a face mask and disposable gloves and maintain a six-foot distance from coworkers. On a scale of 1-5, how comfortable would you be working under those conditions?
19. What else will the COVID-19 pandemic experience make you change about the way you work? (open-ended)
Building a plan that incorporates employee needs
While we try and create a productive, safe “new normal,” we have to be closely in touch with our people. To create a plan that will help increase their faith in the organization and stay loyal to your company, involve your people as deeply and early as possible.