From 1st August, the Government are encouraging Employers to consult with their staff about returning to their normal workplace (if it is safe to do so), although working from home continues to be the preferred government option to help reduce the spread of Covid-19.
We have heard from a number of different organisations about their plans moving forward. A few clients, who perhaps didn’t feel that ‘working from home’ would work for their businesses, have indicated what a success it has been and is something that they wish to continue.
Other clients are planning to adopt a more fluid system for work, allowing staff to continue working from home and attending the office on a rota of basis for a few days a week.
For those that have determined that its essential staff return to the office, clients have been busy creating a safe environment for staff to return to, from hand sanitiser stations upon entrance and throughout the building, restricting how many people can use the kitchen at the same time and in some cases, to creating a 1 way system around the office to prevent any unnecessary meeting in the corridors (ensuring the 2 metres where possible is maintained).
But what are the positives and negatives of each new way of working? and how do Employers maintain their culture if employees remain working from home?
- A positive could be improved employee retention – with homeworking providing an opportunity for staff to find their ‘work/life balance’
- Another positive could be the financial savings for the Company, providing them with an opportunity to reduce their workspace and other facilities
- Some of the disadvantages could include difficulty monitoring and managing performance where managers are not used to managing remotely. In the short term there could also be an increase in costs in terms of setting up an appropriate workspace for staff at home (such as desks, broadband, etc).
What are the implications for the HR Department in maintaining employee well-being?
- Mental health and ensuring that staff stay well when they return is high on the agenda. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) have issued guidance specifically about supporting mental health upon returning to the workplace. The guide suggests that there is a need to re-introduce your staff to the workplace (re-induct) and introducing them to the new way of working and in particular ensuring that you brief line managers on the potential mental health implications of COVID-19 so they know what to look for.
- For those not returning to the office and continuing to work from home, its important to make sure that Managers are staying in regular contact and ‘checking in’ with the employee. If there is an Employee Assistance Programme, its important to remind staff that they have access to the confidential service.
If you need any help or advice contact the HR Team on 01564 739103