Throughout the summer we have been running regular surveys tapping into the thoughts and feelings of those working from home. When we asked how they felt about returning to the workplace we found quite a mixed response. Around 50% were apprehensive and not sure what to expect, a quarter were looking forward to it, and the remainder were resistant. The principal concern (of 66% of people) was having to adjust to new working practices due to Covid-19. A third of people indicated general anxiety about contracting Covid-19 at work or on their commute and another third indicated a general reluctance to return, mentioning that they had enjoyed working from home.
Where some people had previously been indicating some reluctance to go back, most were preparing for a couple of days in the office by December with a fuller (but not complete) return in the new year. Now this has been thrown in the air again. The feedback we have received suggests that many people are now in low spirits about the situation, particularly since the light at the end of the tunnel, which had been adding some structure to people's working lives, now seems dimmed.
Laying the groundwork
For managers and HR professionals this is an opportunity to lay some groundwork for the return, whenever it happens:
- focus on the community nature of work - what might be done further to support people connect socially, ideally in person? Even with the "rule of 6", people can get together in-person, for a walk, coffee, etc, while maintaining social distancing and hygiene precautions
- ensure managers have regular calls and meetings with team members, at least once a week
- hold group planning sessions so that everyone can start to think about the obstacles to returning to work and how they will overcome them
- encourage people to focus on the things they can change or influence and to be accepting of those things they can't control
- continue to watch for colleagues who might not be coping well in the current situation and provide appropriate support where needed
Managing Change provide development and well-being coaching for the workplace. Do get in touch if you'd like to know more about we can help you and your teams. Email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01223 655667.