When is the right time to return to the office, if at all?
I have found myself asking many of my contacts the same question I am asking myself. When should we bring people back to the office? Some of the larger multi nationals are keeping their offices closed for the rest of the year. Others until next summer, believe it or not, little more information here if you want to explore further.
What is the general opinion when it comes to working from home?
Research is showing that working from home is working for the vast majority of us. Some people might ask why return to the office at all. Firstly we should spare some thought to those junior and graduates starting out. Those who need to observe their mentors and see them in action to learn. Is coaching, mentoring as effective through a screen? Are we collaborating enough and creating enough ideas? Will this period see a decline in innovation? Lots of questions I think we are all asking. In my mind 2 days on and 3 days off site would be a great option as the best of both worlds for the foreseeable future. I do believe a return to the office is important, but when is the right time to return?
As restrictions start to be eased we do have to consider what’s best for our businesses for the future. It’s at the point when restrictions are lifted that we will see most people return to the office, some are planning to get back to normal/previous way of working, some as already mentioned more split (2 on 3 off) and some haven’t a clue. How important is flexibility in today’s labour market? Very important in my opinion. I for one have a young family and look forward to returning to the office; however 70% of over 1,000 workers surveyed by PwC said there are several factors preventing them from wanting to return to work, with 51% citing fear of getting sick as their major worry. For others, fear of using public transportation and having no reliable solutions for childcare or home-schooling are also concerns. When the government lift there restrictions are these common fears going to disappear?
What would it be like, returning to work after the lockdown?
Returning to work is a complex issue, with many questions to consider, especially from a workforce point of view. Have you followed the government guidelines? Can you keep people safe? Can all of your staff come back to work at once, or should their return be scheduled? What will it cost to bring people back to work?
A few areas to consider before bring people back to the office:
- Health and Safety, Can we keep people safe?
- Who needs to be in, what’s critical.
- Cost and revenue, understand the costs involved, is PPE required?
- Worker’s needs – mental health, long commutes, childcare, comfort, worth ethic and effectiveness
- Change and culture management
Some actions we can all take right now are to prepare people and give them plenty of notice. Give everyone the reason why an office environment is important. Setting up a return to work task force, get everyone bought into the reasons behind the return. The big question is when to do it? I’m not sure there is an answer, when you are ready but we should prepare now. Once all the H&S guidelines are put in place and it’s safe to return. Assess who is ready to return and gradually start bringing people back would be my advice. I do know some companies are waiting on the government to give their blessing and everyone will be back in that Monday and maybe that is the answer.
Here are the government guidelines should you be ready now.
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