The new way of working

How do companies meet their employees needs returning to work?

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Who would have ever thought that more than a year would pass with Covid still here and our lives on hold in many ways? I am grateful I didn’t know, as taking one day at a time has suited me better than trying to plan ahead too much. Of course, there have been plans that were cancelled but generally, it has been a very low key existence. The same thing most days; wake up, walk, shower, breakfast and work. Kind of like Groundhog day most days.

It has its good and bad parts living like this. Good: I know where I am working from every day, no trains to miss or traffic to get stuck in on our way to deliver workshops or to meetings. I get to eat well, served most days by my husband who loves cooking (I know, lucky woman…). Bad: I don’t get to work with my colleagues which I enjoy, the wi-fi is not always my friend and I miss face-to-face interaction.

So, how will this change in the next months? How many of you will go back into the office? What choices have you got? How does it feel?

Research has shown that anxiety is up amongst employees more than ever. The fear of getting ill, being judged, stigmatised and not feeling able to voice these fears is real. Commuting might be difficult for some as well as being uncomfortable back in a room with many people.

There are points to consider to enable staff to return as soon and safely as possible:

  • Everyone’s unique - we have all had different experiences in the last year and the expectations and coping abilities will vary. Ensuring that staff are dealt with individually as much as possible will make them feel seen, heard and valued.

  • Workplace culture - making sure that policies are in place to ensure diversity, inclusivity and safety. Everyone has to feel safe from discrimination, harassment and bullying in the workplace. This has been highlighted during the pandemic even more, many employees feeling safer working from home than the office, and it’s now up to the leaders to show the way and lead from the top.

  • Communication - as always, the priority for everyone. It goes both ways, the company communicating and including all employees and employees feeling able to communicate with their employers. Surveys, face-to-face meetings and general discussions need to put in place to work out which is the best way forward. What has changed for the individuals? What has changed for the company? How can they meet and find a solution that works for all?

It seems a hybrid of options is the way forward. Flexibility is key from both sides. Open minds to change and knowing we all want to make it work is a good start.

Change is good for most of us and this is our chance to embrace this and learn from it. ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’. (A good read by Susan Jeffers.)

Take care of each other and be kind.

Ase Greenacre

Founder & facilitator , MRT Consultants

We help people in the workplace to become aware of their own impact and choices in their lives. What do we need to do to help ourselves and others to be in better place emotionally? How do we look after our mental health? Mental health and emotional wellbeing is top of the agenda and this is what we work with. The effect in our personal and professional lives is immense.