The news is sounding brighter, infections are down, hospitalisations are down, deaths are down, and most importantly the numbers who have been vaccinated are climbing steadily day by day. For many of us, we can start to see the beginning of the end of this 12-month nightmare that the whole world has endured.
But is it that easy, can we just get our jabs and look forward to returning to the office? Are we ready to spend an hour or so commuting and mixing with other people?
It won’t be long before all of the governments in the United Kingdom will lift their “stay at home” orders. Will your organisation then expect you to return to the office?
What are organisations doing to facilitate this transition? On the way into this we all had to react quickly and adapt on the fly. Now we have the opportunity to plan and ensure that we have the best of both worlds, a flexible approach to working and location, plus the structure and routine of a fixed office base.
What are you thinking? Can’t wait to get back to the office to escape from lockdown hell, or are you anxious about mixing and mingling with people again?
Organisations should, if they are not already, be consulting with their workforce. Reviewing the options and opportunities that exist, and determining a plan – not necessarily just to keep people happy, but to recognise that there are challenges ahead.
People have been onboarded throughout the lockdown period, some never having physically met their colleagues or even visited the office. Some people have been struggling financially, and the burden of cost for travel and subsistence may well be too much for them. Some are worried and nervous still, maybe they are not able to have the vaccine, or are still on the waiting list. Many will be anxious about having to commute with a facemask on, with screens around their desk, hand sanitisers everywhere and social distancing for a while longer.
As I have advocated for the past 12 months, we need to remain person-centric, understanding the impact to individuals and their mental health. We’ve all been in this storm together, but now we need to bring our different boats into the jetty and disembark.
How your organisation steps up to this task will set the scene for employee wellbeing and engagement for years to come. Your people will be watching and keeping an eye on other organisations to see how they are in comparison – how are you going to stack up?
Think about your culture, think about what you’ve learnt and don’t break it now!
Joanne Lockwood is an inclusion and belonging specialist with SEE Change Happen
Originally published in The Herald Scotland