The decision to delay a return to the office will be disappointing to many employers and their teams. Over the last year by being forced to work from home, we have truly realised the benefits of the physical office and working collaboratively in that space, and many are looking forward to returning to the office to continue to work and socialise with their colleagues.
However, this delay will not be as significant to employers as it sounds. Most teams have adapted well to remote working, and so waiting a few more weeks will be understood by most employers and their employees. At the end of the day, the physical and mental wellbeing of our colleagues is the number one priority.
Employers should use these next few weeks to ensure they have a clear plan in place for staff to safely return to the office and that this is clearly communicated. For example, having set days of working in the office, staggered start and end times, and providing reassurance about safety protocols in and around the office will do a lot to reassure those who are less confident about returning.
We are conscious that the extension to the working from home guidance could have exacerbated concerns and potentially made any anxious colleagues more reluctant to return. Ensuring people can start planning now will help this.
Most importantly, employers cannot take a one size fits all approach when it comes to empowering colleagues to return to the office. They need to be aware of individual’s needs, both physically and mentally, and ensure they create an all-encompassing, safe place for their teams to thrive.
Amy Bailey is director of people and culture at Unispace EMEA