Kris Sinclair - HR Professional
With so many people working from home in 2020, the grey area between professional and personal lives and activities has been blurred like never before. As Covid-19 restrictions begin to lift for Victoria and further adjustments occur nationally, businesses and organisations need to prepare to bring employees back to the workplace. For example, in Victoria, effective 23 November there is a phased return to the office and employers can now have 25% of their workers back to offices (or 10 people for businesses with less than 40 staff, if space allows for 4 sqm per person) with numbers increasing over the coming weeks and months. . Each business will have its own unique challenges to face from physical distancing workstations in an office, purchasing of items such as sneezeguards, to adapting procedures to ensure the business is working in line with their COVIDSafe plan. Business leaders will also need to be cognisant of the potential psychological impact that lockdowns have had with heightened numbers of employees feeling anxious about their return.
Everyone has a role to play in helping create a mentally healthy workplace and this is the ideal time to make sure your business has some levels of awareness of workplace mental health to ensure a smooth transition back to the workplace. This will in turn assist with increasing job satisfaction and minimising uncertainty and disengagement and ensure productivity levels are achieved.
Questions. So many questions...
When it comes time to returning, employees may have questions. For some, returning will not be an issue. But for others, there may be hesitancy to return as they are still fearful of the virus, they may be feeling disconnected socially, they may have become too accustomed to the work from home routine – there are any number of reasons for feeling unsettled or anxious. So you need to be prepared. It will be unnerving or frustrating for them if you do not have answers as to how things will proceed. Being on the front foot and providing as much information as possible prior to the return to work will give your employees confidence, rather than leaving them to guess or predict what will happen.
Working from home had pros and cons
Let’s be honest, while many thought working from home would be an absolute nightmare, we all soon discovered that it worked extremely well for many businesses. And there have been a few perks associated with working from home such as working in our track suits, and zero commuting to the office, interstate or overseas, , But we’ve also lost a lot too including things most employees probably took for granted, such as morning coffee runs with colleagues or staff drinks (that aren’t over Zoom) at the end of a long week. Even just being able to quickly ask a co-worker a question has been missed, not to mention the benefits of spontaneous collaboration and brainstorming as well as basic and regular human connection!
Checklist for a successful return to work
So, as you plan to transition your team back to the office or the worksite, there are a number of things you really need to cover off to minimise the anxiety and to make the process a positive experience.
The HR Staff n' Stuff team all contribute to our blogs. Enjoy the read!