For the last year, public health guidelines have asked everyone to work from home if possible. The government predicts that staff will have the option of getting back to the office from September – which, really, isn’t all that far away. Now is the time for employers to plan how they will manage the return to work phase, when restrictions are lifted.
Benefits of returning to work
Many staff will be eager to get back to the office, at least part time. It’s been a long year of limited social interaction, and people may be looking forward to the conversation and comradery that comes with working in an office environment.
Full-time remote work can also inhibit careers, especially if other colleagues are in the offixce. Home workers miss out on vital facetime with colleagues and managers, which can have a negative impact on promotions. A 2015 study conducted in China found that people working from home weren’t rewarded with promotions at nearly the same rate as in-office colleagues. For this reason, employees may be keen to return to at least a hybrid model of remote work and office-work when restrictions allow.
Remote workers may also miss out on informal training opportunities, and the ability to collaborate and develop managerial skills, which are more readily available in a workplace.
Managing the return of staff
The government has outlined many safeguards that employers should implement in their workplace, to reduce the risk of a resurgence in Covid-19 cases. The ‘Return to Work Safely Protocol’ must have hand-sanitising stations in place, and display posters on how to wash hands properly.
Employers must also provide for physical distancing across all work activities. People will naturally gravitate together, so facilitating physical distancing can be made easier by breaking up open spaces with partitions, Perspex screens or sectioned desking, and other clever office design solutions that encourage people to maintain a safe distance from one another.
Canteens are another place where people will naturally gather; having Perspex screens, and enough space between canteen facilities, will help staff maintain a safe distance.
Creating a COVID-friendly workspace
If you’re concerned about your current office space’s ability to welcome staff back, get in touch. We can help provide the necessary equipment to facilitate hand-washing stations and hygiene tools, as well as the necessary Covid-safety signs and guidelines to post throughout the office.
We can also make recommendations on how to design your workspace to keep workers a safe distance from one other. Many of these solutions will not only keep your office a safe space for workers, but have other benefits like improved office acoustics and break-out spaces.