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07.07.2021 Back to Blog articles

Why Compromise Is Key To Supporting Staff Returning To Work

Finally, we are seeing the end to covid restrictions! However, as we try to return to something resembling normal, many people question what exactly they want to be their normal? During the coronavirus pandemic, many of us got a taste of working from home or working remotely. For many, this will have been a very eye-opening experience with some loving the increased flexibility while others found this style of working isolating and lonely. As a result, many employees may be keen to continue working remotely while others may be desperate to get back into the office, even if it’s only part of the time.

4 Questions An Employer Should Ask Themselves When Supporting Staff Returning To Work

There are 4 key questions an employer should ask themselves to determine what they are able to offer as well as what their employees need when returning to work.

  1. Are you prepared to allow staff to work from home?
  2. Are you prepared to allow remote working?
  3. Are you willing to offer flexible working hours or locations?
  4. What are your employee’s needs?

So as an employer some of the first decisions you will need to make is whether you are prepared to allow staff to work from home or remotely? If so, are you prepared to allow employees to work remotely full time or part-time?

Why Compromise Is Key!

One of the main keywords all employers and employees are going to hear throughout this transition period is COMPROMISE. There has to be wiggle room on both sides in order to ensure that all parties involved benefit and are protected.

For example, an employees personal circumstances may have changed to the point where they can no longer commute into the office on a daily basis. This could be a result of changes in financial or family commitments including moving flat or house. As an employer, you never want to see dedicated and highly skilled staff leave so it’s important to find a solution where everyone benefits.

This is where covid has really helped companies open up and see new opportunities for businesses. With many staff being forced to work from home employers were able to retain skilled existing staff regardless of changes in their personal circumstances or their ability to work in the main office. Similarly, businesses were also able to hire skilled staff outside of their traditional ‘office catchment area’. With that said, many businesses were already beginning to adopt this more relaxed approach to traditional office working before the coronavirus pandemic.

There are a range of benefits and negatives associated with working from home. Benefits include:

  • Increased flexibility to work around personal circumstances and commitments
  • Decreased overheads
  • Reduced commute

However, some negatives include:

  • Difficulties with technology
  • Reduced productivity
  • Isolation and lack of innovation
  • Lack of networking, mentoring and collaborative opportunities
  • Lack of definition between work and personal life

As a result, it is natural for businesses to be apprehensive about employees working from home and to be honest working from home simply isn’t for everyone! However, with that said, there is a great COMPROMISE and that is remote working.

Why Should You Support Employees Who Want To Work Remotely

Remote working can come in various forms however the most common is the utilisation of coworking spaces, shared offices and services offices. However, the key advantage remote working can offer is the ability to protect employers and employees from the pitfalls that can come with working from home. These include isolation, lack of definition in the working day and limited networking and collaborative opportunities.

Remote working still allows flexibility in hours and/or location and most spaces coming with facilities and use of utilities included in the rent so there is limited set-up hassle for both the employer and employee. This all-inclusive cost structure can also make elements such as financial planning easier. It is important to note that coworking and shared offices can be so much more than a desk in a large room! Shared offices and coworking spaces can offer private desk and office space within another office to a whole floor within a larger companies building as well as the hot desking approach. It is also possible to rent desk/office space for the days you intend to work allowing you to only pay for days you need the office for example if you worked part-time.

In addition, as an employer, if you are left with spare desk or office space due to some of your employees choosing to work from home or remotely (full or part of the time) this space does not have to become dead space within your office! In fact, by choosing to share your spare office space it can be a welcome financial boost towards your office overheads while also opening up opportunities for collaborative work and networking opportunities.

What Do Employers Need To Do To Support Staff Returning To Work After Covid?

As an employer, you have a responsibility to your staff to ensure they are fully supported but many employers are questioning how to best support their staff when returning to work after covid. The simple answer is that covid has allowed/forced companies to adopt a much more flexible approach to work and the workplace. While many of the considerations regarding returning to work are the same as before covid we should be taking advantage of this increased flexibility and strive to maintain it. This flexibility makes the general process of returning to work either (both now and in the future) by allowing employees to ease their way back into work. Regardless of whether your employees are returning to the office after an extended period of working from home due to covid or they have simply been off ill or on maternity leave; the approach and support you offer should be the same. If in doubt, here are our 5 simple rules

  1. Define how they want to work (full or part-time) and what you can facilitate.
  2. Define whether they want to work in the office, remotely or a combination of both and how feasible this is for your business.
  3. Encourage the use of technology and communication platforms for those both in and out of the office to ensure continuity.
  4. Be organised and structure staff working hours to facilitate collaborative and skill-sharing opportunities. For example, ensuring all creatives working on ‘Super Secret Project A’ are in the office at the same time at some point each week.
  5. Build-in opportunities for face to face chats to touch base within projects and with more senior managers.

Finally, remember the key to supporting any staff returning to work, regardless of the scenario, is COMPROMISE!

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