Recently we looked at how society re-opening could cause anxiety and conflict in society and between neighbours. Here we will look at it from a workplace perspective and how you can help your employees feel comfortable about working from the office again.
Since ‘freedom day’ on 19th July things have been different. Life has started to feel more normal in many ways. For some that will have brought a lot of joy, but for others it will have been a cause for alarm.
As an employer it’s important to understand that everyone feels differently about the current situation and it’s important to be empathetic in all circumstances, regardless of your personal opinions if you want to get the best out of every member of staff. Even the more laid back employees will likely have some degree of scepticism that they may need your help with.
Let’s look at a few of the different perspectives that you may encounter based on our experience and how you can navigate these to get most people comfortable with the idea of working from the office again.
Those keen to get back
After many months of working from home or being on furlough some people will have been keen to get back to the office for some time. This could be through a lack of space at home, too many people in the house to get things done, or simply they’ve missed the social aspect of being at work and seeing their colleagues.
People in this bracket should be the easiest to integrate back into the workplace but be sure to still thoroughly explain any remaining Covid protocols you have in place.
Importantly too, make sure these people understand that others might not feel the same and to still respect people’s space and how they may feel.
Those that are on the fence
Some will fall in between confidently striding back into the office and feeling a bit apprehensive. In the main they will feel keen to get back and see their colleagues again but a degree of trepidation will remain.
Speak to these people and assure them that you’re doing everything you can to keep the office Covid secure and that if they ever want to discuss anything with you then they can.
Most people are always a bit wary of change so despite this feeling like a return to pre-Covid normality it’s still been a long time. Some people will need longer than others to adjust back.
Some people will have enjoyed working from home and now may not want to give that up. Especially those with longer commutes or busier personal lives – those with young families for example.
Others will still have their concerns about Covid. Either because they are in a vulnerable group or just don’t feel safe going straight back to mixing again.
Depending on your business you may decide to grant some employees permanent flexible working. If that’s not possible due to the nature of your business it’s a good idea to spend some time one-to-one with these people and listen to their concerns.
Some people for the same reasons as above may point blank refuse to come into the office again.
Obviously if this is the case you will have processes to go through and perhaps some tough decisions to make if it’s essential to you that staff return to the office.
Mediation can help in any situation
Regardless of how many employees you have in each of the above situations, involving third party mediators as early as possible can help the transition back to the office for all parties. Management and staff.
We can help you get plans, strategies and processes in place before you ask people to return to the office to help things go smoothly. Then if you do come across any of the objections we’ve outlined here or anything else, there will be a process in place to follow.
Equally, if you’ve already notified staff that you expect them to now be working from the office and you have any problems, we can intervene and help with mediation.
Mediation helps to facilitate a discussion between parties and enables them to agree to a mutually beneficial resolution. It can save you a lot of time, money and stress.
To find out how we can help you we’re currently offering free 1-hour mediation consultations. See how you could get more from mediation and book your review today by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01772 954602.