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Is your business starting to plan a return to the office?

After over a year of remote working for many individuals, it could become a possibility at some point this year. Many employers appear to be opting for a hybrid working model going forwards, where employees will spend part of their week working from the office and the other part working from home.

So, if you’re preparing to welcome back your team (even if it is for just a few days of the week), let’s look at things to do now, to ensure the process goes smoothly later.

  1. Find out concerns about a return to the office

The main concern for most employees about returning to the workplace could be staying infection-free, however long-term they could also be concerned about losing the flexibility of working from home.

We would advise that you ask your employees what their main concerns are and use this information to build a plan that is compatible for both your employees and for your business.

  1. Don’t assume employees are the same

Whilst it may be beneficial from an employer’s point of view to have all your staff in the same workspace, not all staff members will share your eagerness to return. The events of the pandemic have impacted everyone and staff may have been left with mental and emotional stress. Make sure to take each individual on their own merits and avoid making assumptions on how the pandemic may have affected them.

  1. Share (or even overshare) on your preparation for a return to the office

It’s crucial to communicate new guidelines and safety protocols ahead of time, so employees know what to expect when they come back to the workplace.

Part of that is sharing your Covid workplace risk assessment, which is an important step in knowing what your organisation needs to do to manage risk and protect staff as they return.

According to HSE guidance on risk assessments, as an employer you must:

  • Identify what work activity or situations might cause transmission of the virus
  • Think about who could be at risk
  • Decide how likely it is that someone could be exposed
  • Act to remove the activity or situation, or if this isn’t possible, control the risk

Employees need to be reassured that you haven’t overlooked any safety steps. So, it may be best to go above and beyond what you’d normally do pre-pandemic – communication has never been so important.

  1. Prioritise mental health

The effects of the pandemic means that more people than ever may be suffering from stress and anxiety. From talking to candidates at Vital People, it is clear that support for mental health and emotional wellbeing will be crucial as they make the transition back into the office.

When getting things back to normal, it is important to involve your employees every step of the way. Keep communicating with your staff on how they are feeling, to help them transition smoothly back into the office environment.