The SMO #coworking Blog

Coworking Space Articles & Opinions

29.07.2021 Back to Blog articles

HR Checklist: What Employees Need When Returning To The Office

So as we start moving out of most of the covid restrictions many may be breathing a sigh of relief that this chaos may finally be over. However, as we have all learned over the past 18 months the one thing that we cant do is predict the future or assume that it’s all going to be fine from here on. So as a business owner, regardless of your size, the key thing you must be is prepared! With that said, knowing where to start can be daunting but fear not here is our simple checklist for returning to the office after Covid.

3 Steps To Returning To The Office After Covid

Step 1: What Are Your Wants

Before returning to the office there are a few questions freelancers, consultants and business owners need to ask themselves.

“How Has Covid Impacted My Business?”

  • This simple question is the first and one of the most important questions you need to ask yourself. When asking this question you need to think about:
  • How many staff were furloughed?
  • How many staff chose to work from home?
  • How many staff chose to work on a flexible basis (in terms of location or working hours)
  • Was your business still as efficient as it could be?
  • How easy did you find it to maintain open lines of communication between staff?
  • How did staff working remotely impact your companies finances? For example were you able to reduce your overheads? Did you have to invest in additional software and technology to support your staff working remotely, from home or on a flexible basis?

It is essential to define what happened to your business during covid and how it impacted your company as a whole. Naturally, the answers to the above questions will impact your decisions moving forward. Here are a few examples

Example 1 - Reducing Overheads

For some companies, lockdown forced them to embrace remote and flexible working with a variety of outcomes. However, for some businesses, this new approach to a working environment has opened up a world of opportunities to streamline their businesses finances. For example, although remote working may have an initial high outlay for items such as technology and software there are also savings. These savings can be made through the reduction of office space, reduced utility usage and reduced sundry business costs such as in-office perks like tea and coffee making facilities, office snacks and office social areas with games.

Providing that your business has maintained its efficiency business owners may choose to support and even encourage employees to continue working from home or return to the office only on a flexible basis. Allowing them to reduce overheads by downsizing or renting out spare office space.

Example 2 - Supporting Employee Development and Battling Isolation

Some employees have been dreaming of working from home but sometimes the reality of remote working is very different from what is expected. One of the key issues many employees have sighted when it came to working from home or remotely was social isolation. Companies can try to address this through the utilisation of communication platforms such as Slack and Zoom but there is still something to be said about the ability to sit down in a breakout area with some of your colleges and spitball ideas. It should also be noted that younger employees have missed out on informal mentoring and training opportunities which can stem from sharing a workspace. It is worth pointing out that the success of working from home can also be impacted by an employees home life. Lets face it trying to work with children running around or fighting your flatmates for room and wifi is far from an ideal working environment. As an employer, you need to define the impact on your employees and how this impacts your business. This can also apply to freelancers and consultants who have been working from home as covid shut down many of the coworking offices.

Step 2: What Are Your Employee’s Wants?

There will always be the need for balance in the relationship between an employee and an employer. As an employer, you need to ensure that your staff are happy and feel supported. This is for a number of reasons however the most obvious is that happy employees are more likely to be more productive as well as more innovative and creative. In a survey by Harvard Business Review, 58% of employers reported an increase in employees accessing tele-behavioural health such as audio or video therapy while 83% were accessing Employee Assistance Programs. In this case, EAP’s (Employee Assistance Programs) can include cognitive behavioural therapy as well as mindfulness and meditation programs.

These simple facts demonstrate that during the pandemic employees have been struggling and openly reaching out for help. However, as an employer, you need to do more than just provide the support; you need to ask WHY? Why are your employees struggling? Why is it important to ensure your staff are happy?

Some of the key questions and employers should ask their employees include:

  • How have you found working from home/working remotely?
  • Would you like to continue working remotely?
  • Would you consider flexible or hybrid working?
  • What about working remotely did you like?
  • What did you not like about working remotely?
  • What do you miss about being in the office?
  • Have there been any changes in their personal life that might impact their availability and working hours?
  • If they are going to continue to work remotely is there any other support services, technology etc that they would benefit from?

Step 3: How Are You Going To Move Forward?

Needless to say, once you have defined what you and your employee’s needs are it is essential to look at how you are going to translate this information into a strategy to move forward. So how do you move forward? The thing you must define is whether staff are returning to the office on a full, part-time or flexible basis. Once you have defined this you can look at how you can efficiently group staff together who are working on collaborative projects to support easier communication and foster better collaboration and innovation. Where you have staff who are only returning to the office on a more limited basis establishing a regular ‘touch base’ to ensure they feel included and supported is essential. It is also vital that employees who are working remotely or on a hybrid basis have the technology, furniture and software they need in order to be as productive as possible.

Once you have defined who is going to be in the office and when it is time to look at your office utilisation. Most employers will tell you they are always under pressure to reduce overheads and costs to maximise profitability. As a result, the next logical step is to identify whether you need all the office space you have. Remember if you have staff who are in on a part-time or flexible basis they can share a desk providing they do not overlap. Now that you have streamlined your office you can then determine whether you are going to downsize your office space or rent out and share office space.

In Summary

Regardless of the size of your company we have all had to address how we look at our working environments. For some the ability to work from home has been a joy and a dream come true however for others it’s been a version of hell. Whether it has been fighting your flatmates for wifi, convincing the kids you are not available to play just because you are at home or simply missing the networking and socialisation working in an office offers; it is safe to say that working from home has not been for everyone.

However, despite all the negatives, there will always be some positives for employees. This may be through the lack of commute, avoiding the office gossip Gladis, the relaxed dress code or the financial savings (for example: from your commute, that morning Starbucks or grabbing lunch with colleagues) there will always be an element of give and take.

As a result, many employers are encouraging staff to return on a flexible or hybrid basis and for good reason. Flexible or hybrid working offers employees the flexibility to identify what working environment, or a combination of, suits them best. This in turn allows the employers to ensure that their staff are fully supported and productive while streamlining overhead costs and opening up other opportunities through activities such as sharing spare office space.

Simple Pricing

Our pricing is simple and fair and explained here. We charge a fixed fee and no commission!

Map Search

Find the perfect office, in the perfect location, using our map search feature


Straight to your inbox.

Subscribe here