After almost 8 weeks working from home, and the Covid-19 restrictions starting to ease, many companies and staff will see a return to the workplace.
Many employees will be anxious and excited to come back to work to see co-workers, grab lunch and catch up with everyone with stories and happenings over this period. This sounds great but jumping back in to togetherness will also bring change to many workplaces.
As Kartens prepared to reopen last week amid restrictions that are still going to affect our business for a number of months, we have ensured our team are ready, motivated and aware of all of the changes Covid-19 had brought to our business.
Once you’re across the coronavirus-related work health and safety information for your industry, spend some time imagining and thinking about what it might be like for your business in the weeks and months ahead, and plan for different situations and scenarios. It’s a technique that can help you gain a sense of comfort and a feeling of calm about something which, to a large extent, is beyond your control. Hold a team meeting and get input from everyone. The 3 main points we have found imperative to the transition are:
Keep staff updated
Communicate with your staff about company updates, time frames, new policies and procedures. Hold a team wide zoom meeting prior to commencing back to the office and encourage staff to ask questions / voice concerns about returning to the office.
- Be prepared with dates and reinstatement plan and what new policies and protocols will be in place (keep in mind, these may differ per state)
- What should employees expect when they return to work
- Provide hygiene information to ensure a safe return to work
- Reiterate sick leave policies
- Be available as a manager with open communication
- As a manager always be available to have a private conversation if required also.
Ensure Employee Safety
Maintain Positive Habits and Prioritise Self Care
Have your employees complete the Health Covid Safety plan to ensure they are across health and safety guidelines, new hygiene routines and the latest government updates. This will also make your guests feel more comfortable, knowing you staff are across the guidelines.
With regard to emotion, it’s critical to check in with employees to assess levels of fear. We’ve heard from other organisational leaders who have already transitioned their workforce that this can be the risk that can sneak up on you.
If employees are fearful of contracting COVID, the way they perceive the workplace is going to be different than others. There’s a very good chance this will create drama throughout your organization. But if you can get ahead of that, you can really save yourself a headache and also be more productive when you’re making this transition.
There have been a few perks associated with working from home, such as no commuting and additional spare time, but we’ve also lost a lot. This includes things most of us probably took for granted, such as morning coffee runs with colleagues or staff drinks (that aren’t over Zoom) at the end of a long week. Even just being able to talk to a co-worker to ask a quick question or have a chat has been missed.
So when the time does come to return to the office or the worksite, enjoy the little things that have been absent over the last three months. Take the time to have that one-on-one conversation with a colleague. Visit your regular café for lunch just like you used to.
They might seem small, but these actions can help with establishing some normality back into your routine.
Change is hard for everyone, so encourage your staff to embrace the “new" normal but still enjoy some of the comforts of the old environment for eg. Grabbing a coffee together. As a manager check in with your staff regularly to ensure they are feeling ok.
What are the who, what, and how logistics of returning to the workplace.
Prioritise Physical Distancing in the office
Physical distancing and hygiene measures are a key part of the national COVID-19 safe workplace principles but how they – and other measures – play out in your business will depend on several factors. These include the industry you’re in, how many employees you have and the physical aspects and size of your workplace.
- Ensuring people have enough space to stay 1.5 metres apart ( 4 sqm per room )
- Keeping surfaces clean in the office, kitchens and bathrooms
- People's journey to work
- Managing appropriate spacing in lifts
- Communicating with clients amd guests visiting your office
This is a real opportunity for people to work together.
Karstens wish you all the best in returning to the new norm and getting business back up and running as soon as possible.