It is safe to say that the working structures of old are now a thing of the past. Covid-19 triggered a dramatic shift away from the office and a traditional 9 to 5. Replaced by remote working, staggered schedules and flexible/hybrid working arrangements.
The good news is, there is far more guidance available now for what the return to work might look like, than there was for the swiftness with which many people were forced to adapt to working from home when the pandemic hit.
It’s natural to be nervous, what with 71% of Americans working from home most of the time during the pandemic, and 54% of them wishing to continue doing so after it has ended. Getting people back into the office is going to rely heavily on ensuring staff safety and providing adequate incentives to make the shift back to the office worthwhile.
Increasing vaccination numbers are helping Americans feel safe to be around their colleagues again, but there is still concern that unwell staff may feel pressured by management to come into the office.
Some other leading concerns:
- Shared work and communal spaces.
- Lack of proper ventilation.
- Choke point hotspots like elevators, washrooms and changing facilities.
- Mask mandates
With around one in three workers suggesting they would rather quit than return to the office. The charge has been firmly placed in the hands of employers to create workplace adaptions that make their employees feel safe to return. Some of these may be mandated or suggested by the government or local authority. (Varying by country and province.)
Social distancing enforcement.
Social distancing has become part of our daily routines and that is not set to change as we return to the office. Following government guidelines most offices will be restructuring their layouts to keep staff 2 meters apart, separated, and safe. These measures will also help to control the flow and direction of customers as they access services.
Employee density restrictions.
Depending on how large the office space is and where it is situated, there will be rules on the number of employees and customers allowed into the space at any one time. Most businesses will need to limit the number of walk-in customers, in favor of an appointment-based system. While staff may find themselves on staggered schedules to avoid mass gatherings during shift start and finish.
Enhanced cleaning schedules.
Employees and employers will both be responsible for creating and maintaining enhanced cleaning protocols. Try to work together to identify key touchpoints that may further transmission. i.e. Shared computers, door handles, light switches etc.
With the proven success of working from home more people are speaking up for the provision of services they feel would benefit their safe and happy return to an office environment.
- Having personal office spaces.
- Support with commuting costs.
- Staggered start and finish times.
- Support with childcare.
- Concessions for disabled or vulnerable employees to continue working from home/have as little office contact time as possible.
These are but a few things employees are encouraging their employers to consider when reinstating work from the office rather than from home. Leadership also has to adapt and evolve to the new normal of managing close contact and remote staff and clients. How effectively they navigate these relationships will have a definite impact on their profitability and employee retention.
If you want to reach out to discuss recruitment strategies during this significant shift of employees returning to the office further, please don’t hesitate to contact Matt Jordan of TPI any time.
Matt Jordan, President