We are currently living in a new era that has brought many changes and shifts to the economy as well as the corporate world. In this new dynamic, it is important to adapt and innovate as we redefine the new normal. Businesses are beginning to open their doors and the return to work for office employees is approaching — maybe even a little faster than anticipated. Companies now need to focus on implementing a safe and effective return to work strategy. Executives have the company’s success as one of their top priorities during this strange time, however, to achieve this success it is important to think about the reintegration from the employees’ point of view.
Think of your people first. Here are four employee’s points of view that may be brought to your attention that should be considered while planning your corporate return to office strategy:
1. “I live in a vulnerable or high risk household .”
Some of your employees may live with a family member who is in a vulnerable health state, or who may be a front line worker making them highly exposed. The employee may even be vulnerable themselves. It is important to consider the fact that many of your employees or their family members might have pre-existing medical conditions that make them immunocompromised without your knowledge. For these people, returning to their office desk with other coworkers might cause serious anxiety. It is important to keep these cases in mind and to have a flexible strategy.
2. “I can’t return to work, I don’t have childcare.”
One of the major obstacles for many employees will be childcare and the lack of safe options available. Depending on location, schools and daycares may remain closed for longer than expected. Parents may be left with no choice other than to stay home with their family. Even if schools begin to open, some parents may not feel comfortable sending their kids for a variety of reasons. Consider implementing a return to work strategy that allows for your employees to have options such as a staggered return on a voluntary basis. This will allow your employees to have a voice and let you know when they feel the time is right.
3. “I wonder if we can have the flexibility of work location?”
Most employers should be prepared for their employees to request more flexibility regarding their work location. Over the past few months we have seen that companies can still work effectively without needing all employees to be in a shared physical office. Instead of jumping right back into your formally known office routine, consider the flexibility of remote work.
According to a recent study offices nowadays should focus more on being a safe, socially distanced work area available for employees who wish to come in and for working on shared projects. Think of it like those study rooms you could book in university to work on group projects. You meet with your peers to discuss a plan and the details of the project but a big part of the work gets done individually at home. Corporate reservation systems have become extremely sophisticated and effective at managing shared physical office spaces and turning them into easily bookable spaces to increase productivity. Book a demo with billie to see how we can provide flexibility and workplace options for your employees.
4. “I’m just not ready to return to the office, I don’t feel safe.”
The focus of returning to work will be centered on a strategy to make your employees feel safe and secure. Your workforce is composed of many individuals who all have unique external circumstances that will determine whether or not they feel safe when returning to work. It is important to consider when bringing employees back to the office that we are all coping with this pandemic in a different way, and to some it may have a bigger personal impact including on their mental health.
Make sure you put your employees first and give them the opportunity to choose what makes them feel safe and comfortable during this time. Start by creating a dialogue to allow your employees to provide their feedback during the transition to coming back to work. When your employees feel as though they are being heard it can help with a smoother transition when returning to the office.