How Can Business Support Their People Returning To Office in Our New ‘Normal’?

August 12, 2020

By: Oliver Page

The reality is that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world and we are now beginning to experience the new ‘normal’. It’s important for businesses to consider the impact of the continuing change and uncertainty their people are experiencing and are likely to face over the coming months.

It’s a strange time for us all.

As offices around the world begin to re-open after various lockdowns & restrictions people are feeling somewhat different about going back to the office. Some individuals are raring to get back into the office – back to some level of normality, others are nervous at the prospect of being back in busy workplaces exposing themselves to potential risk and some have settled in to working from home and are resistant to having to be in the office 5 days a week.

Now is the time for companies to take action and support their employees through the inevitable transition of working back at the office – by taking positive steps they will have a happier and more engaged workforce to drive their businesses through these tough economic times.

So, how can businesses support their people?

Understand their people’s state of mind: Businesses need to understand employee’s attitudes on returning to the office before considering the best approach to take. Gathering this data can be done in a number of ways such as surveys, opinion polls, focus groups or having discussions each individual.

Consider various approaches: Once the data has been gathered an analysed businesses need to consider which approach is right for them.

Some approaching to consider are:

– Phased returnThis could be starting with being in the office 1 or 2 days per week and increasing this over time.

– Rota systemHaving different teams in the office on different days. With this option, the office will need to be thoroughly sanitised at the end of each day.

– Continue remote workingIf this isn’t impacting the operations of the business, this should be considered.

– All staff back in the officeThis should only be considered if social distancing can be implemented at all times whilst in the office.

It should be noted that there is no one best approach, or combination of approaches to guarantee a smooth transition. This will depend on the business and employees within the business.

Put all precautions in place & communicate them: Some examples of simple precautions are:

– Back to work training

– Mandatory temperature checks

– Social distancing at all times

– Install hand sanitiser

– Face masks to mandatory

– Limiting face-to-face meetings to when only absolutely necessary – and during those meetings ensure social distancing at all times

– Enforce working from home if an employee is displaying any symptoms of feeling unwell

It’s important for businesses to not just implement precautions, but also communicate these very clearly to employees. This will not only ensure compliance but will also make them feel safer and more at ease with being back in the office.

How can Ignite Training help?

At Ignite Training, we can help support your people back into the workplace and into our new ‘normal’ in a number of ways: Virtual Workshops, our in depth Learning Journeys or Face-to-Face Workshops. Supporting employees through training either before or once back in the office is an impactful way to make them feel safe and improve their mind state. Some topics to be considered are:

– Mental Health & Wellbeing: It’s vital with the amount of change and stress individuals are experiencing for people to be aware of their own mental health and how to support other’s experiencing challenges with their mental wellbeing

– Managing ChangeThere are two approaches for this:

– Managing Change: focused on supporting and equipping individuals with tools to manage themselves through the change

– Managing People Through Change: this focusses on the change management process from the managerial perspective and how to best manage individuals and team members through change

– Stress Management: Equipping people with the skills to identity and manage stress will smoothen their transition back to the office

– Resilience: Investing to increase the resilience of employees will only improve their transition back into the office and improve performance

– Back to Office TrainingThis can be used to communicate all the precautions and policies are being implemented as well highlighting what the business is doing to support them back into the office.

This article was written by Oliver Page, Ignite Training’s Operations Manager & ICF certified coach who works with his clients to support them in achieving their goals by focusing on key areas of thoughts, feelings, action & impact. Click here to find out more about Oliver and his experience.