As we head into July and hopefully a return to a more “normal” work and personal lifestyle of living again, employers are faced with a huge task of figuring out how to successfully transition employees back into the office. Employees are understandably going to fall into two categories. Some are eager to return and can’t wait to escape the home working way of life we have all had to adjust to, others may be comfortable and settled in their home office and apprehensive about office life again. Either way, a delicate and cautious approach to individual needs will be required. Some tips on a return to the office preparation may help to alleviate fears and install confidence for all staff.
Just as many were starting to grasp working from home, they now have to prepare to return to the office. The stress and challenges of the past year are still weighing heavy on individuals. As employees begin to return to work, be sure to offer mental health resources to help.This support can come in many forms from internal HR to outside influences.
Mind, www.mind.org.uk the mental health charity have produced a free Mental health at work commitment guide for employers during coronavirus, which has been designed to support organisations to tailor existing workplace interventions to support the mental health of staff during the coronavirus pandemic using the Mental Health Commitment as a framework.
Take health and safety measures
Employers must consider detailed risk management approaches to safeguard employees’ health and minimise the risk of infection, basing plans on up-to-date government and public health guidance. Employers can use their coronavirus specific risk assessments to assist in their decision-making process, considering the factors referred to above, including the feasibility of implementing social distancing and local outbreaks (if any).
Workplaces will need to be reviewed to maintain hygiene and safety measures and if premises have been closed for a period of time, companies should consider carrying out a deep-clean before reopening. Protective screens and a re-design of desks may be required to ensure safety measures are adhered to.
Revamp your work space
Aside from the safety aspect of the office design, a revamp of furniture and equipment may be required for a positive, encouraging return to work for staff. To help with hesitant and apprehensive workers, a new look and fresh design will help with a return for staff from a mental health point of view. There is no doubt that stress, anxiety and depression have risen as people grapple with lockdown restrictions and are forced into a new way of living. Employers are taking a fresh look at the physical design of office space and how it can play an important role in improving their employees’ mental health.
Communicate with your team
Communication is key and has never been more important with a return to the office preparation plan. Practicing transparency and strong communication with your team members during this time is imperative. Managers should lay out expectations for their team to ensure that everyone is on the same page and knows how to access support and advice if needed.
Once a clear, concise plan is in place for a return to the office, companies can carry on with growth and progression and staff can feel safe and valued.
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