The Government has postponed the 21 June ‘end of lockdown’ date until at least 19 July, with the advice to still work from home if you can do so. Yet behind the scenes, organisations have either started to welcome those employees who can’t work from home back, or are planning how and when they aim to open up their work places to employees again.
At our most recent HR Club, we had a wide ranging discussion about the key challenges and opportunities associated with returning to the workforce. What quickly became apparent is that there is clearly no ‘one size fits all’ approach. Some businesses, for example those employing key workers or workers who cannot easily perform their role from home, have been in the office throughout lockdown, while others have only just started to plan for what a return to the workplace may look like.
Similarly, some employees will be champing at the bit to return to the office environment, while others will have very valid fears about doing so. For those who have not been in an office environment for the last 16 months or so, it is going to be a big shift, with a myriad of potential challenges to consider, from workplace etiquette and hybrid working policies, to mental health issues and workplace testing.
Running alongside all these issues, is also a huge opportunity to reinvent ways of working to help increase productivity, improve recruitment and retention and establish a whole new approach to work.
Over the coming weeks, we will be sharing a series of articles covering the key challenges and opportunities associated with returning to the office post lockdown. One overarching theme that came up time and time again during our HR Club discussions, was the importance of consulting with employees before implementing any new ways of working.
This is especially true at a time when many organisations are looking into implementing new ‘hybrid’ working arrangements. There is always going to be a fine balance between the needs of the business, your clients or customers and your employees.
However, a recommended first step should always be to communicate with employees and find out not only what kind of working patterns they would like to adopt going forward, but what the drivers for these are. This can then be taken into account when establishing working practices that combine office and remote working, while still allowing for important training and mentoring, idea sharing and also preserving and maintaining company culture.
If you have any questions about the topics discussed here, or any other element of returning to the workplace post Covid, please do get in touch.