The overly optimistic amongst us may be thinking that returning to conventional working will be easy.
Sure, we’ll follow the regulations, erecting a few 2m distance signs and depositing pots of hand sanitiser around. But the situation we’re in, truly is unprecedented, and none of us have experience of working effectively through a highly contagious and ongoing pandemic.
Whether we put much thought into it or not, the way we work has a huge impact on our productivity: most of us have faced a huge shift in our working lives this year, and now we’re all about to face another. Especially for those bringing staff back into a physical working environment, it’s tempting to assume that they will simply be able to hit the ground running. But accelerating speed to productivity after yet another seismic shift will be more challenging than expected.
Once again, staff will be out of their comfort zone – and their employers will be too. A true eye-opener to our changed world was the revelation that, on most of London’s pavements, it is physically impossible to observe social distancing. Now envisage yourself in a typical office space, keeping two meters – or 6 feet and 6 inches – between yourself and every other person. While these rules may be relaxed or updated according to government guidance, even half - that is a lot more than we’re used to.
Then remember to apply this to any toilet facilities, staircases, fire escapes, meeting rooms and lobbies. Will your reception desk be able to work in this way? If, to enforce this, you limit the number of workers who can access the office at any one time, who gets priority, and when? If workplaces aren’t office based, perhaps instead on construction sites or retail shops, how will processes be updated to ensure workers can stay safe?
Many organisations might have considered most of the factors strictly relevant to Covid itself – but have failed to consider the implications of a site left vacant for 3 months. Let’s say, for instance, that your small office is in an old building, that isn’t necessarily in the greatest state of repair. Without a facilities manager, who is checking that the building is still safe – or even usable? What if an electrical fault has occurred that means nobody will have wi-fi? Without having been tested, will the fire alarm system still work?
And what about communication in teams? You may have been relying on emails and video calls over recent months, but while the first transition may have actually been quite straightforward – we’re all working at home now – this one may be more complex. Ensuring that the relevant staff understand every nuance of the guidance will give the reassurance needed to return to workplaces feeling safe. Getting the changed basics right first time will ensure they can work more effectively from the moment they walk through the door.
Any lack of clarity will muddle messaging and cause confusion, and potentially waste valuable time while processes are straightened out. Ineffective delivery of new policies could go further, and damage employee trust and engagement in you and your organisation. Research has found that only 6% even want to return to work as normal; with so much reluctance at play, this is something you have to get right.
Often, the people working within organisations are too embedded in them to objectively apply necessary changes, or see new answers to established methods. People experts, like Capita, are ideally placed to offer you high-level insight, with detailed and nuanced advice on what the new normal will look like for your organisation. The breadth of our expertise, pairing decades of experience with cutting edge understanding of legislative implications and the newest tech solutions, is brought together under our re-boarding proposition.
We’re here to help you figure out how the latest regulations affect you and your workers, and keep abreast of each and every change. We’ll help apply them within your business, and communicate them specifically, personalised with clarity and kindness. As a government partner, we’re frequently in conversations that offer us the greatest insight into the detail of applying current legislation. We’re able to work in consultation with your HR staff, build a comprehensive package of suggested policy changes.
Our digital communication and engagement tool offers consistent and clear conversations between management and workers. It supports dealing with the issues that Safety Health and the Environment teams are wrestling with as offices re-open, and home working becomes even more the norm, tracking form completion and agreement to new working practices. Our training modules upskill your senior staff to lead with empathy and flexibility, whilst bite-sized tactical re-skilling can be deployed to support the new policies and procedures that will be required to keep people safe and ready to adapt.
There’s a lot to do and so much to consider to get things right – but Capita is here to help.