The pandemic isn’t over yet, but its intensity has subsided. Having said that, the world is not yet able to drop the guard. After the second lockdown, many businesses returned to the office once the restrictions were lifted. However, the plans to return to work for many others haven’t materialized. The likes of Google and Apple have extended their remote working period. A recent study by Gartner has also revealed that more than 65% of all the organizations across the world are expected to delay their return to work due to emergence of new variants of the coronavirus.
So, those planning to return to work in the next few months need to be very careful about the entire process. If there is a glitch, it could seriously damage their chances of building trust with their employees. Coming back to office gives everyone involved with an organization an opportunity to return to a work model that they are familiar with. They understand how it works. Organizations should be ready for an imperfect return to work. However, there are lessons to be learned for not only a particular company but every other organization that’s planning a return. It will take time for employees to get used to the environment, so organizations mustn’t rush anything.
The model of work an organization opts for shouldn’t make them compromise on flexibility. If they do, they will see their employees struggling to get back to their best when it comes to productivity. They need to understand that different employees have different needs. And the pandemic brought this truth out in the open for everyone to notice. The days of a one-size-fits-all approach are long gone. So, even flexibility could mean different things to different people. That is why organizations should first gauge employee expectations and then design flexible work norms based on those.
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The best way to build trust with employees on your return to work will be by asking them for their feedback. Employees and leaders will always see the same thing differently. They will always have contrasting opinions. However, that doesn’t mean that employees shouldn’t be given the freedom to speak out. And when it comes to a return to work, employees are bound to have concerns. The responsibility of an organization in such a situation is to listen to what employees have to say and provide practical solutions to their concerns.
Keeping employees in the dark about a potential return to work in the future isn’t the right thing to do and it could put those plans at risk as well. Organizations should share return to work plans with employees well in advance. This will help employees to prepare themselves well. And the employees should also be told about the details, such as the number of days and hours they will have to spend in office. This will allow organizations to streamline and smoothen the return to workplace process. When employees know about everything, they are less likely to have any concerns.
Reference: Return to the Workplace During COVID-19: 3 Lessons for Reopening Success | Toolbox | Heather Rollins | November 11, 2021
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