Life today is looking a little different to how it did a year ago. As restrictions ease, we can now look forward to resuming the things that we once took for granted. Seeing friends. Meeting indoors. Heading out to work.
Because in the next few weeks and months, more and more people will be once again embarking upon the commute, the tea round, in person meetings.
And yet, whilst we talk about going ‘back’ it’s not a case of just picking up where people left their desks before the onset of lockdown.
A year of working from home has impacted upon people significantly and will undoubtedly have changed attitudes and aspirations to how we work. And so, as companies start to throw open their doors once more, it’s so important they take steps to support and empower their employees as they head back into the workplace.
And there are four key things to think about:
- What do you think?
At any time – but especially now – it is important to understand employees views and how they feel: what their concerns are and what their needs are. And, right now, what they’d like to retain from the last year – and what they will be glad to see the back of. Asking staff questions – in surveys, in forums, in virtual workshops – not only allows us to gain vital insight into attitudes and perceptions at this key turning point, it also shows people that they are valued, that their opinions matter.
And, not just asking questions now: companies need to keep these conversations going because the way that people feel will change as the return to the workplace becomes more embedded.
- Shape plans together
People need to feel that things are happening with them and not to them. And so, engaging people in shaping plans and actions as the return to the workplace take place is important. Companies should empower staff to come up with ideas and improvements that respond to the needs of the workforce in this post Covid world. Because by giving people accountability and a genuine role in shaping the future, satisfaction will increase and ownership of any changes will be engendered.
- Welcome back
This isn’t just business as usual. The return to the workplace marks a significant milestone which, for some, will feel like starting again. It’s important to create a welcome back that is supportive and appreciative, recognising the efforts of staff during the turbulent period preceding it. Organisations should think about any activities or interventions to integrate people back into the workplace – and crucially, communicate these. And, the focus should be on people, not just task.
This has been a difficult period, in varying ways, for all of us. And now more than ever, it is vital that companies and their leaders look out for staff wellbeing, offering support and recognising that for some people, returning to the workplace will pose a challenge. Keep talking about wellbeing, and placing importance on it, including, by leaders who role model wellbeing.
To find out more about engaging people as they return to the workplace, please do get in touch: