The 21st of June is the date on everyone’s lips recently. While we’ve all been told it is a case of “data, not dates”, when we look at the images of the concerts in Liverpool and packed audiences in watching the snooker, one doesn’t have to be thinking it is too far fetched for most aspects of daily life to get back to normal soon.
One area though, which will definitely see major changes is how everyone teeters around getting back to work. For those afforded the privilege of working from home, the last year and change has definitely opened many eyes who have found new ways of making a change in scenery work for their businesses.
Now that things are ever so slowly changing, you might be in the position where your work is going back to having staff in person, or at least some mixture of staff on-premises and others working remotely. With things getting ready to ramp up, and a perceived return to the norm by mid-summer, let’s look at some of the areas local businesses will want to look at to help staff feel comfortable getting ready to work again.
The lack of commute has afforded millions of people across the country with more free time than ever. The lack of commute has also dramatically shifted attitudes. The Irish Independent recently reported that research from Trinity College Dublin found that morning commutes are ruining mental productivity for workers. Imagine being told that someone coming back to the office will negatively affect performance.
This is why your top priority for getting staff motivated to come back into work is simply asking them how they want to do it. While you may have the notion that everyone will be happy to come back in five days a week, it simply isn’t true. Employees will want the flexibility to choose where they work, especially those with young families who may need to juggle resources around.
Improve networks & communications
I’m sure you’ve been in a position this year where a co-worker has sent a message, and you haven’t been sure how to read it. Second-guessing what someone means doesn’t happen when speaking face to face, but if staff are going to be working from one location and sharing network resources, you might want to think about how networks need handling.
I know of some businesses that have allowed business broadband contracts to lapse as they haven’t needed to have a dedicated network when demand is lower. Even though you might have had just one or two people using the company Wi-Fi in person these last few months, you’ll want to be wary of what it means when staff are back in, and network demands increase.
If your business relies on staff connecting through a shared network, and you don’t want to see staff cursing the internet, you might want to look at the likes of a switch. You don’t even need to get a new switch when the current price of a refurbished switch is more affordable than you think (click here to see some examples of what I mean). It can be that one little piece of kit that helps keep work on track throughout the day.
The Stationery Set Example
Just like the days of heading to Woolworths to choose your new pencil tin and stationery for school, you might want to have a look around the office and take notice of what is on people’s desks. Staff may now have the perfect work station at home. It could be so good that it makes them reticent to come into the office.
That’s why now is the time to ask your staff what specific items they would need in the office to make it easy to work unencumbered. I use the stationery set example as it could be something as simple as seeing what bits and bobs employees need around them to work. On a broader level, you may need to check if staff need specific accessories or items to improve accessibility (e.g. laptop stands, posture cushion etc.).
Remember, you want to make the workplace a space staff feel comfortable in again. Get the ball rolling by talking with staff on a one to one basis, as they’ll have considered little things that maybe didn’t even cross your mind.