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Welcome Back: How to Make the Return to the Office Fun

by Nicholas Rhodes
Last Updated on August 25, 2023
Welcome back to the office

Despite working over 40 hours per week at home, remote workers report being 22% happier. Remote workers cite being more focused, less stressed, and having a better work-life balance.

With all those work-from-home benefits in mind, you need to create a return to office (RTO) experience that excites your employees. Offering unique activities during this transition will help combat any resistance your workers may have.

Here are unique ideas to create an engaging return to office experience.

Return to Office Lunch

Free food is the perfect way to kick off team bonding when employees return to the office. 

Schedule an RTO lunch where employees can reconnect in person. This is also the perfect way to formally welcome new team members and allow them to make connections.

You can cater lunch or take people out to a restaurant. Make sure to check allergies and dietary preferences beforehand so everyone's accommodated.

Photo Booth Experience

Photo booths are an excellent way to increase employee engagement and make RTO more exciting.

With photo booths, there are many options. Here are a few:

Lobby Photo Booth

As you welcome people to the office, set up a photo booth near the main entrance. Setting a photo booth up in the lobby makes sure everyone sees it and is encouraged to take photos.

Employees can enter the photo booth and snap some pics as they walk in. People can also grab their friends and come back to the booth later.

Your company can collect and display these photos throughout the office.

Virtual Photo Booths

If your company has a hybrid workforce, virtual photo booths are an excellent way to connect those at home to those in the office.

OutSnapped's hybrid photo booths allow remote workers to access the photo booths through a virtual portal. From there, they can take some fun pictures. Their photos will be included in any slideshows and mosaics.

Keeping employee engagement high with a hybrid workforce is a challenge, but this idea will unite everyone.

Remember that employee engagement positively impacts:

  • Productivity
  • Team performance
  • Achieving objectives
  • Retention rates
  • Turnover rates (decreases)
  • Burnout (decreases)
  • Absenteeism (decreases)

Make employee engagement a priority and reap the benefits. Photo booths are a great way to do so!

Team-Specific Photo Booths

If you want to increase your company's team bonding activities, consider team-specific photo booths.

Rather than having one booth for the whole company, you can rent multiple and allow teams to enjoy them together. You could also rotate one photo booth between various teams.

Highly engaged teams are more creative, more productive, experience lower turnover, and generate more profits. Use photo booths to unite the teams at your company.

Happy Hour

Everyone loves a good happy hour! With employees returning to the office, your company can welcome them back with this idea.

Happy hour could be a one-off event to kickstart return to the office, but it can also be a recurring event.

Employees can get to know each other over time by making happy hour a regularly scheduled occurrence. This will also inspire creativity and connection when on the job.

Happy hour can be hosted at the office, but you can also take it to a local restaurant.

Personal Trivia

While employees were remote, your company likely changed. Some workers left, others joined, and perhaps the structure of specific teams shifted.

With previously remote workers returning to the office, personal trivia is an excellent way for people to get to know each other.

Sometimes it's difficult for people to connect more deeply, but personal trivia will help. It allows employees to find commonalities that will unite them outside (and, thus, inside) the office.

In-Office Snacks

Everyone loves free snacks! Make sure to stock your office with various free snack options that employees can munch on.

Snack ideas include:

  • Chips
  • Cookies
  • Popcorn
  • Dried fruit
  • Fresh fruit
  • Donuts
  • Beverages (water, soda, coffee, tea)

Welcome back to the office

Update Employee Headshots

The importance of a good headshot can't be understated. Properly executed corporate headshots offer these benefits:

  • Reinforcing company values
  • Reflecting well on the company
  • Improving your company's and employees' first impressions

Polished headshots give those your company works with the right impression of you.

Employees will also appreciate the chance to update their headshot. Professional headshots help them stand out, too.

EXTRA CREDIT: Headshots Dos and Don’ts: 12 Expert Tips From a Professional Portrait Photographer

Welcome Back Sticky Note Messages

Return to the office is the perfect opportunity to showcase your appreciation for employees.

One way to help people feel appreciated is to leave welcome sticky notes on their desks and in common areas.

Workers who feel appreciated are more productive, happier, healthier, and create a positive work environment. 

Here are some phrases for inspiration:

Welcome back! We missed having you around and appreciated your work while you were remote.

Thanks for joining us in the office! We're glad to have you here. Enjoy the free snacks in the common room whenever you want.

We're so happy you're back and hope you are, too! Check out the lobby photo booth for some RTO fun with your coworkers.

We appreciate your commitment during the work-from-home period. We hope you're excited to be back in person. Enjoy complimentary office snacks on us as a thank you!

Parking Passes

One significant benefit to working remotely is the elimination of commuting. Commuting is time-consuming and expensive.

To help combat the resurrection of commuting, offer parking passes if your building doesn't have guaranteed parking. Your employees will appreciate not paying for parking after a long commute.

Slide Shows & Virtual Mosaics

One way to make returning to the office more fun is to generate slide shows and virtual mosaics from the first few days.

Ask employees to document their return to the office. They can take photos of themselves, their coworkers, funny things around the office, and anything in between.

Welcome back to the office

Desk Gifts

Boost employee engagement with fun desk gifts!

With employees returning to the office, they're back at their desks. While they probably customized their home desk, you want them to feel at home in the office, too.

Some desk gift ideas include:

  • Fun reusable tissue boxes
  • Seat cushions for desk chairs
  • Photo frames
  • Keyboard covers
  • Desk organizers (for pens, sticky notes, and other office supplies)
  • Fun notepads
  • Foot hammock
  • Phone holder

These gift ideas add a personal touch and welcome remote workers returning to the office.

Office Survival Kits

With employees back in the office, you can create office survival kits. These should include basic supplies that will help employees feel more comfortable.

Consider including the following in your kits:

  • Pens
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Aspirin
  • Breath mints
  • Fun-sized candies
  • Cleaning wipes
  • Sticky notes
  • Mini water bottle

General Tips for Return to Office Success

Creating a positive and successful return to the office is about more than activities and gifts. Now that you have inspiration for making RTO fun, it's time for some other tips to make this process a more general success.

Gather Feedback

With employees returning to a physical office, there will be an adjustment period. Many of them are accustomed to work from home (WFH) and the benefits that provides.

Listen to your employees and seek their feedback. This helps you understand how to make working from the office more enjoyable.

Make Sanitation a Priority

Nobody wants to catch COVID-19 at the office. To keep your employees safe, ensure the office is regularly sanitized.

You can also set up hand sanitizer stations around the office and post signs in the bathrooms reminding people to wash their hands for the full 20 seconds.

Be Empathetic

The pandemic affected all of us in different ways. Many employees struggled with burnout and anxiety as a result of WFH or a hybrid workforce.

Prove to your employees that you care by being empathetic to what they're going through. And, if someone needs to stay home for personal reasons, let them whenever possible.

Create a Clear Isolation Protocol

Covid will inevitably reach the office at some point. 

Clearly instruct people to stay home if they're feeling ill, and indicate relevant symptoms. 

If someone begins to feel under the weather at the office, have people on staff who -- while in full PPE -- can bring them masks and lead them to an isolation area.

Then, outline a protocol for how long the employee should WFH and when they can return.

Return to Office Can Be Fun

If your employees are dreading their return to the office, don't fear. Use the ideas in this article to make RTO engaging.If you plan to utilize photo booths for return to office, contact OutSnapped today. We'll ensure you and your employees have a seamless, enjoyable experience!

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