Return to work is the new mantra adopted by offices post covid. Work is any activity taken up by mankind to make a living. It involves mental and physical activity aimed at achieving something. Human beings work to earn a living and live a decent life. People work to earn money, be independent and have more control over their own life. The threat to public health forced small companies and big business houses to stop working. The world economies came to a halt.
This threat to public health along with the economic and social disruptions threatens the long-term livelihoods and well-being of millions forcing governments, workers, and employers to adopt a Global Call to rectify what mistakes humans have made so far. Even now if a man does not understand what is the right way of living after losing so many lives to the virus then survival will be more difficult than just trying to get back to work.
Return to work post-pandemic
Once the vaccination is complete, employees would be requested to work from office. One-third of the employees who have got back to their office have a complaint of a negative impact on their mental health. There are half of those who are yet to resume office work, feel that the situation might have an impact on their anxiety and stress levels.
With a workforce suffering from mental distress due to the pandemic, there is a fear that millions of people returning to work might encounter yet another wave of stress and anxiety related to their workplace. With such fears looming around the employers would need to make some arrangements that would make returning to work easy. Not only will they have to alter the workplaces initially, but some changes would have to be long-term. Other than the individual needs of the employees for returning to the workplace and resuming work some key issues will have to be understood and preparations would have to be made likewise.
Workplace Safety will be the first and the most important measure. Employees and customers alike may have fears of returning to business with a company. Following the safety protocols should be the top prioirity of the management. This will remove the fear and increase brand loyatly.
Recall Procedures will help in planning how and when employees will return to work. Employees can be called to office in diffetent batches. This might become overwhelming and possibly unsafe. The management will have to divide the workers into phases based on seniority or another non-discriminatory factor for selection. This will gradually help employees join back on duty. The entire lot is not there at the same time crowding the place and creating safety issues.
Remote Work needs to be given thought and importance. Permanent work from home for certain employees can be a cost saving measure.
Communication establishing clear communication on topics such as return to work timetables, safety precautions in place, and how else the company will support workers and customers will be of great help for the benefit of both the company and its employees.
New-hire paperwork will have to be initiated for employees who were laid off during the pandemic. The employees who were laid off as their services were not required during the pandemic will have to follow normal hiring procedures to return to work.
Policy Changes will have to be made according to the new norms. It is no longer business as usual, and employers will have to update or create policies to reflect the new normal. For example, felxible work timings, flexible paid leaves, flexible meal and break policies and many more.
Business Continuity Plans will have to be devised by the employers. The pandemic has taught a valuable lesson to employers regarding their business continuity plan or lack thereof. There is an urgent need for employers to review and revise the plan to prepare for future emergencies. They will also need to amend the existing plans to include the latest emergency information and workplace changes to take care of future emergencies.
(Re)build Employee Engagement
Once the employees get back to work the employers will have to pay attention to employee engagement. They will need time and space to allow the employees to acclimatize to their new/old environment. The extended time that the workforce has been away from their place of work . It means that it will take time for the employees to readjust to being back in a physical workplace. There will also be some new faces in the workforce who were either working remotely and have never set foot in the workplace. There maybe employees who were hired during the pandemic and did not get a chance to come to the workplace. All these new faces will need extra time to adjust to the workplace.
Experts feel that the “Covid fatigue” made some employees feel burnt out. While some others found it difficult to maintain engagement with the workplace while working remotely. Pairing employees with other co-workers will help them adapt to their new normal. Social interactions, joint projects, and cross-training are all ways that will accelerate the shift to their new environment. Reinforcing patience and kindness during the process & involving the employees in mapping out the solutions to each work environment challenge will also be of great help towards employee engagement.
The pandemic forced humans to stop and think about what was more important, work or life. It made them realize the damage they had done to their lifestyle as well as to nature. Now that spread of the virus is under control ,people want to get back to work. But all this is possible only when we learn what the pandemic taught us. We will need to be cautious in everything we do. Covid protocols need to be strictly followed whether the employees work from home or work from office.