Balancing Workforce Safety with Back to Work
Updated: Sep 24
As we transition into autumn, more organizations are seeking ways to safely bring their workforce together again.
Remote working, once considered a perk, has become the norm as countless employees have spent the past months working from home. While many have enjoyed the experience, others are fatigued by it. Employees want remote work to be an option, but not a replacement for the traditional office. It was found in a recent survey by Big Red Rooster, a JLL company, that 94% of employees want the option to return to the physical office. A challenge not considered by many is the burnout employees have experienced from working full-time from home. Over two-thirds, or 69% of employees, are reporting burnout symptoms, according to a survey by Monster.com. Individuals are taking less time off than they normally would and are juggling work and home life. As companies look to bring employees back to the workplace, either part or full-time, the well-being and safety of workers is top of mind. Anxiety created as employees navigate new modes of behaviour, public commutes and worry of transmission among colleagues is on the rise. The well-being and safety of a workforce returning to a common workspace is top of mind for employers everywhere. Finding ways to create a safe workspace with good protocols that keep employees safe is paramount when returning to the workplace. Here are some resources, information and strategies organizations are exploring and using in the return to the workspace. Re-Imagine Current Space Offices and workplaces need to be entirely rethought and transformed. This takes careful planning. Everything from flex hours, rotating personnel schedules, safety protocols, movement restrictions and workspace layouts need to be factored in. We found this helpful and wide-ranging resource, by Work Design Magazine. The Hub and Spoke Model The Hub and Spoke Office Model establishes a central hub headquarters and uses several smaller branches, or spokes, in surrounding areas. Individuals can work locally and commute less, resulting in increased productivity. Large organizations, like KPMG and Deloitte, are considering 'drive to' destinations. People are protected and can safely gather, collaborate and innovate in ways that happen best 'in person'. When looking to bring employees and contractors back into a workspace, companies are thinking differently with methods like the Hub and Spoke Model. Use Scheduling Technology Combined with signage, physical distancing, workplace reconfiguration, sanitation and screening, companies are also looking at staggered and shifted returns. People take turns going into the workplace on specific days and times, gathering in pre-determined teams or with cohorts and within designated work areas.
Companies are using scheduling technology to better organize their teams and cohorts, while reducing the risk of too many individuals in a space at the same time. There are many benefits to using technology to schedule a workforce. Creating and delivering clear communications on expectations, regardless of the approach, will need to be consistent. Leaders who take the time to ensure a regular flow of information on what the organization is doing to keep their workforce safe will lessen the anxiety and stress for returning team members. They, in turn, will be better able to focus on their day to day activities. We are all building new habits and ways of doing business. Reinforcing the plan for a safe workplace return, hygiene practices and cleaning protocols will help to build the new habits for everyone. These are times full of change and uncertainty. Organizations, who can use the current circumstances to shift and build a better experience for their talent will improve productivity, reduce costs and ensure collaboration and creativity thrive amongst team members.