For large corporations and enterprises, the transition to working from home caused widespread disruption as many employees struggled to adjust to new routines and cramped workspaces. Coupling this with overnight companywide issues of cybersecurity and health and safety dilemmas, it’s no surprise that many employees are feeling exhausted from the stress of remote working.
Now, we see the return to “normality” in sight as infection rates remain under control and restrictions continue to ease. For many, this will be a welcomed relief as it marks the beginning of an end to the last year of turmoil. However, large organizations face a challenge as they’re required to balance the needs and wants of their employees along with the demands of their business.
So how can companies maintain productivity amongst their employees as they face yet another disruptive period? Here are some key steps that businesses can take to minimize the additional challenges their organization deals with.
Ensure the safety of employees comes first
For businesses, ensuring the health and safety of their workforce should be the biggest priority as we transition back to the office. Employees will be expecting their employer to have a strategy in place and to be ensuring any decisions made will help them back into the office safely, which could include additional sanitation stations, changes to the layout of the workspace or changing employee schedules.
Large corporations may wish to consider evaluating their existing guidelines regarding the use of face masks and gloves, as well as when employees and visitors are able to return to work after recovering from the infection. Businesses should assess their protocol on track and tracing to ensure they’re protecting those who might have been exposed to the virus whilst also safeguarding their employees personal data.
Understand what employees need to transition back
With bigger organizations, there’s bound to be disparity between how employees feel regarding their return to the workplace. Whilst some office workers may be eager to leave their remote working behind, others may have conditions which increase their risk of infection or caregiving responsibilities which make it challenging for them to return to the office. It’s important for organizations to be mindful of how employees' personal circumstances might have changed over the past year.
By asking employees how they feel about returning to the office and what would help them transition back, businesses will be able to better support their employees' mental health. This will also allow for businesses to address any recurring issues and put appropriate steps in place to make the return as seamless as possible.
For employees who do return, there will be an onus on their management to assist in their re-acclimatization to the workplace. People may find it difficult to adjust to returning to the office full time straight away, as they’re confronted with the early morning commute, new environment and being surrounded by colleagues once again. To ensure employee welfare and productivity are protected, management may want to consider a staggered or phased return for their workforce.
Ensure employees have a healthy work-life balance
Having a healthy work-life balance is crucial for the wellbeing of employees, since it not only helps to maintain their mental health but also ensures their physical health and helps them to feel refreshed. Since employees have been working from home or have been off work during the pandemic, it’s likely that they’ve experienced significant changes to their schedule and working life.
Management should try to support their employees as much as possible as they readjust to their old working routine. Since employees who have a healthy work life balance are typically more productive, it’s in the best interest of the organization to ensure employees aren’t working late into their evenings on or weekends as they may have occasionally done during lockdown.
By checking in on employees regularly, encouraging one-to-ones between managers and employees and running surveys, businesses will be able to understand how they can protect the wellbeing of their employees in the workplace. Encouraging employees to be open about any problems or issues they’re facing will help to remove the stigma around mental health and ensure employees face an easier transition back to the office.