Many companies and workers are approaching the phase of slowly getting the gears going and returning to work. There are still many uncertainties though around what shape our New Normal will take.
Understandably, being an employer during this time is difficult. With work stacking up and in some cases running on company reserves alone, it can be tempting to rush ahead and return to normalcy. Getting back to traditional work might make you want to pretend Coronavirus never happened or make a huge show of responding to the threat.
Well, both of these approaches are wrong! With the answer being somewhere in between “business as usual” and a new way of work.
So, let’s take a look together at everything employers shouldn’t do post COVID-19, even if they want to.
(In this piece, we won’t get into the complexity of employee concerns over returning to work or ethical and policy considerations surrounding this, but if you want us to unpack this in a later piece, leave us a comment 🙂 )
Pile on the pressure
There may be a pile of outstanding work but this doesn’t mean employee workload should automatically increase to clear backlog, the moment they return: where possible, employers may introduce a re-boarding for employees to readjust and relearn their working environments and on-site commitments.
Leaders should try to look at the situation as a team member, not an owner or manager. If anything, individuals will need more support and space to readjust. Phased return to work, split shifts and small responsibilities are reliable processes to reintroduce employees to the workplace.
Plus, depending on the nature of your work, it’s safer to promote short spurts of work with small groups of people.
Act as if nothing ever happened
Although everybody will be glad that the first half of 2020 is behind us, it doesn’t mean that we should sweep the experience under the carpet! On the contrary, we should all learn from the data we have and navigate future challenges before they become problems at scale.
The global impact of Coronavirus will continue to ripple through society, therefore hygiene measures must be taken seriously. And along with this, employers may be expected to apply sensitivity throughout their guidance and policy. we will all have to spend time reviewing company diversity and handling our employees’ emotions with care. We should approach the post-coronavirus workplace as a place free of cobwebs, both in terms of the physical workspace and its culture.
Embrace Flexibility and ‘Chunking’
Now that your team has had a taste of remote work, there’s a good chance that some of them will find it hard to forget its benefits! While many will welcome a break from their home environment, some may feel that working from home helped them to thrive, juggle other priorities, and better concentrate.
Ideally, leaders could look at this as a golden opportunity: by developing flexible work policies, workspaces will be less crowded, more fluid, and, generally, workers will be happier and more productive.
Combining goals into work packages for small workgroups tends to work well for creative and corporate teams, these can then be layered and scheduled throughout the business HQ, which provides both environments for their most relevant objectives. Home – task orientation, HQ – sprint, and goal orientation.
Technology is the perfect bridging mechanism for the concept of the hybrid worker, we suspect we’ll see a lot more of this in the years to come.
Learn How Beem Helps Organisations Adjust to the New Normal
Business Travel vs Video Conferencing
This one is a little tangled up as issues go, with countries having their own quarantine rules, the UK, and the US having specific quarantine response protocols depending on the country. It’s a multi-model topic all told.
But right now, we’d suggest employers carry out their international risk assessments with the movement for the individual/s expected to travel; then weigh the probability of disruption or infection for the individual. Some countries are COVID-19 free at the time of writing and others are close behind if we’re sensible there’s no real need not to travel if there’s a genuine business requirement for it.
Most of us insist on face-to-face meetings just to, well… be present! However, business etiquette like paying an in-person visit to be polite. as well as shaking hands and kissing coworkers on the cheek as greetings, may need to be halted for a while. Many businesses and roles within them struggle to be made digital and some goals might not translate to digital video.
Ultimately, if you’ve been asked to travel for something you know to be digitally enabled, ask for a thorough explanation and a risk assessment for your itinerary. Then you can make an intelligent decision.
Rush to redesign the workplace
Companies will need to make short-term changes to either offices or other workplace environments like shops, restaurants, and bars. However, a complete redesign is probably best saved for the future, when experts know more about how hygiene and contamination can be best managed.
At the moment, leaders should refer to government advice on working in office and contact centers as well as formal guidance on the reopening of shops and branches. This advice recommends basic actions and non-permanent fixtures, such as putting up temporary perspex screens to protect workers and visitors, refraining from sharing equipment like pens, and being more vigilant about cleaning high-contact areas like doors and toilets.
Splash the cash
In the same vein, while it might be tempting to treat your team to a mid-year bonus or plan a welcome back hoorah, it’s much wiser to keep your cash in the bank. Experts predict that it will take around three years for the UK economy to recover from coronavirus. With this in mind, making any major moves, whether it be a redesign or a generous bonus, could put you on the back foot in the coming months when the economy is still unstable.
We’re not quite out of the park yet, and a second wave isn’t off the table. To keep your company safe and your employees safer, it’s best to play your cards close to your chest by saving some funds for a rainy day.
Some leaders are highly anxious about reopening their stores, offices, and businesses. Others may feel that the risk of infection is disappearing as lockdown rules begin to relax.
Any side of this spectrum you decide to pick, please remember that going forward leaders will need to have a laser-focus on hygiene, workplace habits, and scheduling, as well as the economic battle that’s sure to follow!