The large and sudden changes to the way we work over the past year have left mixed feelings in the workforce. How has working from home affected your employees? And how are they feeling about returning to the office once lockdown eases?
These are the kind of questions that all employers should be asking themselves and preparing a toolkit to help make this transition as easy as possible on your team.
While some employees are sick of working from home and will welcome a return to the office with open arms, others may be hesitant after experiencing the flexibility and autonomy of home working.
One thing that is for sure is that the office we all remember is very different from the one we will return to. To help support your employees in this upcoming change here are some points to consider when planning and adjustment tips that you can share with your team:
Harley Street life coach Karl Rollison advises that “the key to defeating anxiety is confidence, and we acquire confidence through repetition and practice.” His advice to employees is to plan your return to the office in detailed steps and to visualise these steps and become familiar with them. This technique may help some individuals prepare for their return to work by visually walking through their first day back in advance.
Bringing a little piece of familiarity from your home environment to the office can help stem the mental and physical gap. Experts have suggested this as a great way to alleviate feelings of concern towards returning to the office. From a favourite plant to a photo – this should help bring comfort and calm.
Help build confidence in your workplace by ensuring staff are engaged with plans for what the first day will be like and by listening/acting open any concerns raised. This can include relaying to staff what safety plans are in place at the office to minimise risk, any changes to flexibility with working conditions and any issues relating to the commute.
Many of us have picked up lockdown hobbies including long walks, reading, cooking or meditating. These have been our constants for months on end now bringing an element of stability to daily life which is why it’s been recommended to keep them whilst adjusting to a new routine. Encourage your employees to prioritise these self-care routines around their working day, lunch break and evenings to help stay in a good headspace and de-stress.
Increased stresses and pressures over the past year mean that it is likely your workforce will be returning with depleted mental health. It is a crucial time to focus on creating a mentally healthy workforce as the country adjusts to the easing of lockdown. Employers can focus on looking at support, maintenance and prevention to help employees through an unsettling period of change – Acas provide a great guide. It is also worth being aware of services available to your workforce at no cost to your organisation. The Access to Work Mental Health Support Service for employees is provided by Remploy. This free and confidential service provides nine months vocational workplace support for individuals that need it.