The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we work forever. With the huge move to remote working when lockdowns were implemented to protect the population and stop the spread of the virus, COVID became the largest remote working experiment ever.
As governments have gotten the pandemic under control and we slowly make the return to our normal lives, this has included the inevitable return to work. With employees worldwide mostly wanting to have work from home options included in their workweeks, companies have had to reflect on how to best handle this change in attitudes.
Business as usual simply won’t cut it now, and with the coronavirus becoming a part of all of our lives, coming back to work won’t be a simple bounce back. Here are some tips for employers and employees alike on how to handle this uncertain time and best manage the return to work, post-pandemic.
First are tips for employers. As we’ve already covered, things will inevitably be different when employees come back into the workplace, and it’s up to management to ease this transition and create a positive working environment for all.
Make Sure Your Office is Suitable for Post-Pandemic Working
Firstly, you must evaluate your office environment and make any necessary adjustments to best welcome your team back. You might even find that you need a new office if you have a different capacity now. For flexible options, serviced offices offer adaptable packages and lots of amenities. Check Devono and find more information about it.
Post-pandemic working needs to consider the ever-present coronavirus that can still spread throughout your workforce. Keeping this in mind, your office needs to be able to cater to hygiene processes and preventive measures to keep your staff safe. This includes:
- Hand sanitizing stations
- Temperature checking facilities
- Socially distanced workspaces
Prioritize Wellness Moving Forward
One of the biggest challenges workers have faced is wellbeing throughout the pandemic. And employers have struggled too due to the sudden change that the pandemic brought on. Many companies weren’t prepared to work from home and lacked the suitable policies and procedures, which they effectively had to make up as they went along.
The effect that the pandemic has had on everyone’s mental health has only highlighted the importance of and need for work wellness programs. Moving into a post-pandemic space, work wellness is still as important as it was at the height of the pandemic, with uncertainty and anxiety being uncomfortable realities we have to now live with.
To help employees handle the change of coming back into the workplace, wellness must be prioritized. If you have a program in place already, you may simply need to implement it and bring attention to it again, and if you don’t, it’s time to create one.
Having a wellness program in place allows you to support your employee’s sense of wellbeing at work, and help them manage stress levels and ultimately, feel more comfortable at work.
Here are some activities you can implement into your work wellness program:
- Exercise facilities
- Team building activities
- Charity activities
Be Flexible and Understanding
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that working remotely works. Countless companies have seen surges in productivity since working from home, dispelling the myth that working at home impacts productivity negatively.
This, along with the strain the pandemic has put on so many people, is why it’s so important for employers to be flexible and understanding with their staff moving forward. If some staff would like to continue working from home, then management should consider allowing this.
There are many people who prefer a more hybrid approach, spending a few days in the office and a few days at home, which companies can also implement. Giving your team more flexibility and autonomy over the way that they work will only increase employee satisfaction and therefore productivity.
Invest in Technology to Support Hybrid Working
To support new hybrid forms of working partly from home and partly in the office, you can invest in technology to enhance your team’s collaborative abilities and productivity capacity no matter where they’re working. Whether it’s a professional Zoom package or new task management software, technology will ease the transition into a new way of working.
Make Sure Your Company Culture has Evolved
Unfortunately, many companies before the pandemic weren’t positive places to work. The stigma attached to working from home and professional norms that emphasised productivity over wellbeing created an often toxic work environment for employees. The coronavirus pandemic has encouraged many companies to evolve and develop, and that change should also translate back into the office.
Try to retain the more trust-focused, flexible and open culture that working from home encourages rather than slipping back into old habits. It will make your employees feel happier and supported when they return to work.
It’s important for employees to be prepared to go back into the office too. From being honest with your manager to your own personal work habits, there are many things employees can do to ease themselves back into the office environment.
Communicate with Your Manager
Being honest and open with management is extremely important in terms of monitoring and managing stress and anxiety levels when coming back to the office. Returning to work is a big change, so keeping your manager in the loop about how you’re feeling can help them to support you when it comes to workload and wellbeing.
You need to make sure you are comfortable with your role, tasks and team when you return to the office. This is where setting boundaries comes into play. They can help you to feel more comfortable at work, and can be used in smaller in-office interactions, as well as larger decisions about the way you work.
Taking care of yourself has never been more vital for professionals. Considering the strain that workload, the coronavirus pandemic and personal commitments and responsibilities can put on you, self-care is instrumental to helping you come back to the office in a positive, empowered way. From meditation to regular exercise, taking care of yourself will only help you to settle back into the office environment.