The pandemic is starting to fade into the background, and the knowledge workers are faced with the fact of going back to work at the offices, at least partly. Going back to work is going to raise some workplace problems, as it takes a bit of time for all of us to shift into this new hybrid working mode.
We have listed eight workplace problems you might want to consider when going back to the office.
1. Changing guidelines from the local authorities
As we have seen during this pandemic, it comes and goes in waves. Different variants of the virus are moving across the globe and that is creating problems for your local authorities. They are in a constant mode of adjusting to different scenarios, and this could affect your local guidelines on when is it appropriate to return to the office and in what quantities. Note that this is the case at least before herd immunity has been achieved.
2. Mixed company policies on going back to work
In a similar manner to your local authorities, the company leadership are in the mode of constant adjustment and monitoring of the situation. This really shows the importance of good internal communication on the company’s policies, and they should be communicated from the top leadership, for example in weekly meetings. This helps reduce anxiety in the company on whether it is safe to go back to work at the office.
3. Ensuring healthiness in the office
Managing the risk of people being back at the office is a job for the leadership. Technologies such as workplace management systems to maintain social distancing and to avoid using un-sanitized workspaces can help you reduce workplace problems, and there is a variety of software specifically designed to keep a log on everybody at the office (their check-ins). These programs can also be used to log everybody’s recent travels and contacts so contact tracing is possible.
Note that in order to maintain employee confidentiality, all this data needs to be separate from all the other employee details and should only be accessed by those who actually need it.
4. Managing the order of returning to the office
Who is allowed to return to the office first? This is a question on how your company prefers to do it. You could do it based on safety or based on the job tasks. Prioritizing this helps the company to start the rollout of the new hybrid working model, depending on how you want to enable your workers to get back to work at the office.
5. What if everybody is at the office at the same time?
This is a quite likely scenario after your workforce has been vaccinated and everybody wants to come and spend a casual Friday at the office. Internal communication, hygiene protocols and clean-desk policies can help you minimize the risks of transmitting any diseases, thus reducing the risk of creating other related workplace problems.
We would recommend creating a prioritization of who can go to the office first (are the employees in risk groups or the ones who simply cannot work from home the first one to the office?) to avoid this, at least until everybody has been vaccinated and the pandemic is really starting to slow down.
6. What about people not wanting to go to the office at all?
As opposed to everyone being at the office there might be some who do not want to go back to the office. Maybe their job is of such variety that is done easier from home, or they just simply prefer working from the comfort of their home.
There is no simple answer but treating your employees with respect and helping them find their own way of doing their job is important. If they have succeeded to work from home previously, we see no reason that it would change as some of the employees go to the office.
If most of your workforce does not want to go back to the work, then there might a bigger reason for that. It could be anything from noise levels to unpleasant work habits at the office, so you might want to ask and listen to them for feedback on how you could attract them back to work.
7. Team coordination at the office
When you return to the office in a hybrid working mode, you would like your team members or some other specific co-workers to be there. Coordinating this is a massive task and you should not overlook it, as having facetime with your colleagues enables powerful collaboration.
8. Getting used to being at the office
If you have worked from the comfort of your home for the past sixteen months, simply going back to the office and getting accustomed to being around other people takes some time. So, take the time to re-adjust to the office environment, grab a nice lunch and enjoy small chats with your colleagues in the break room, because that is what we have all missed!
Avoiding workplace problems with good communication
Good communication is the basis of avoiding workplace problems, read how good communication helps: