Covid restrictions are gradually being eased in the UK between April and June 2021. So, it’s time to start thinking about the return to the workplace and how you’ll welcome your home-working and furloughed staff back into the office.
After months of working from home during lockdown, it’s a big cultural shift to move back to the office or workplace. People will be anxious, worried and out of practice with the social norms of working in the same space. As an employer, it’s your job to make your staff feel safe, cared for and confident when they return to work.
We’ve gathered together some simple tips for a safe and successful return to the workplace.
Making your business a welcoming place to work
It’s likely to be a gradual shift from home-working to office-working. The Government’s planned easing of restrictions every five weeks should give us all plenty of time to plan, once it’s safe for a larger number of people to come back to the workplace.
Here are some key ways to get your business ready:
- Rework the layout and usage of your workplace – it’s unlikely that all social-distancing restrictions will be lifted immediately. For a while, we’ll still need to keep our distance, so think about reworking the flow of people through your office/workspace and move desks/partition walls/equipment etc. to create more space for distancing.
- Update your protocols and safety procedures – read all the current government guidance regarding Covid measures and ensure you’re ticking all the correct boxes when it comes to safety. Guidance is likely to be updated regularly, so be ready to make changes and to keep yourself and your team up to date.
- Stagger the return to work – one great way to reduce the initial impact is to stagger the return to work. Consider only having certain teams/departments/project groups in on certain days, to keep the number of people in the space to a limit. Using hotdesking, with a top limit of people per day is another option, to restrict the initial usage of the space.
- Move to hybrid working – In a recent survey, 67% of home-working employees showed a preference for hybrid working in the future. Switching to hybrid working gives your people greater flexibility, allowing them to choose whether they work from home, in the office, out on the road, or at a client’s premises. This mix also reduces the number of people in the workspace, helping you maintain safe levels of occupancy.
- Start having team huddles – creating a team bond and engaging your staff will be even more important than usual once we return to work. Have regular in-person or video-based team huddles to build team spirit and give people a forum for their concerns.
- Talk to your team – every person will have their own level of concern and worry around coming back to the workplace. Some will be extremely eager to stop home-working. Others will be wary and anxious about being back in a social environment. Talk to each member of staff 1-2-1 on a regular basis and check in on their mental health.
- Be a kind and compassionate boss – ultimately, your team will be looking for your leadership, but also for you to be understanding of their own individual situations. A happy and stress-free team will be a more productive and efficient team, so put their minds at rest, create a safe workspace and offer them all the support they may need.