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How to Make Returning to the Office More Palatable for Employees

How To Make Returning To The Office More Palatable For Employees
22 June 2020 | Updated 24 June 2020
 

Angela Love discusses how business leaders can help alleviate employee anxiety surrounding the return to work, and the close connection between FM and HR.

Love is a Director at Active Workplace Solutions, a company which specialises in workplace change from design and build to furnishings and business relocation. Angela recognises that employees are at the heart of any successful business and works to attract, nurture and retain a talented workforce.

 

"FMs must understand an organisation’s operating structure and one of the things that HR can offer is an appreciation of how the business is going to operate and innovate post-lockdown. If FMs also understand this they can then design outcomes for the office, factoring in the right context rather than just the financial or visual aspects. By working together they will establish better outcomes for those returning to work."

–Angela Love

Director, Active Workplace Solutions

 

 

FM and HR Collaboration

 

Facilities managers will be working closely with HR, ensuring buildings comply with COVID-19 government guidelines ahead of the return to work. However, concerns remain over the physical and psychological impact home working has had on the workforce, and that’s not even taking into account how people are going to cope with returning to unrecognisable office conditions.

Alleviating any anxieties surrounding the return to work is something that should be tackled now to make sure the idea of returning to an office space is made more palatable post-pandemic. This is the opportunity for business leaders to step up. In fact, it might be the making of new, inspirational leaders moulded by COVID-19.

 

Angela Love

Picture: Photograph of Angela Love

 

Ensuring post-COVID-19 adaptations to the office are somewhat obvious is the first step in reducing employee concerns. Office space management will change. Since lockdown was announced in late March, some of our clients have ordered perspex screens for their desks, all of which are phasing their workforce back. A virtual tour of their desk along with any office updates via video conferencing software will remove the element of unwanted surprise when an employee returns.

Upon this return and beyond, the workforce will rely on a greater connection between FM and HR. You could be forgiven for suggesting the role between the two is now somewhat blurred. Resilient communication between them is key and should be supported with effective health and wellbeing programmes.

 

Rota-Type Occupation Of Buildings

 

Much will need to change in terms of the facilities provision and processes. For example, the “new normal” in the workplace should involve limiting face to face meetings. Despite being in the same building, if a meeting needs to be held then this can still be done virtually. Zoom or Microsoft Teams makes this easily achievable.

Employees will also be reassured to physically see the cleaning team out and about in common areas who should be making areas such as bannisters and toilets their main priority. Many employees have proven that they can work from home effectively and productively, so a rota-type occupation of buildings until at last the end of the year is also expected to ensure social distancing is achievable.

 

Spaces Must Appeal To Everyone

 

The FM role and the approach to the office has changed, for now at least. FMs must understand an organisation’s operating structure and one of the things that HR can offer is an appreciation of how the business is going to operate and innovate post-lockdown. If FMs also understand this they can then design outcomes for the office, factoring in the right context rather than just the financial or visual aspects. By working together they will establish better outcomes for those returning to work.

What we need to do in the meantime is to determine what employers and employees want and need in order to work productively and safely in the office space. When designing and managing work environments that support the overall employee experience, savvy workplace managers must continue to ensure their spaces appeal to everyone, regardless of generation, personality or specialism. The slate has been wiped clean. Now everyone must re-evaluate how to create a space to complement high-performance teams and alleviate any anxieties about returning to work.

Picture: A photograph showing an office with desks spaced out to comply with social distancing

Article written by Angela Love | Published 22 June 2020

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