In the past two years, the world of work has undergone a huge shift that has affected us all. Whether your situation in the workplace has moved to fully working from home, or you’re now back in the office full time, or you have been thrust into the middle ground that we now call ‘hybrid working’, one thing is certain, we need to change our thought process about how we engage with ‘hearts, minds and hands’ as we start to welcome people back into the office.
If bringing people back into the office is something your organisation is interested in achieving, it’s important now to forget about the basics. In this case it now starts off with risk assessments, communication and follow through, and the entirety of this process can be personalised and made engaging with the use of tech, tools and systems that you may already have in place.
Risk Assessment basics (Hands)
At its simplest form, a risk assessment is the checking of how dangerous something is and what do we need to do to make it less dangerous. So, with regards our current Covid world - it’s worth keeping a close eye on the ever-changing guidelines laid out by the Government and local authorities. How do you keep desks facing away from each other, how do you keep people socially distanced, should masks be worn etc.?
Once you have all this information you can begin to make decisions about which actions are needed to bring any risk down to a ‘reasonable’ level. Remember that your colleagues will want reassurance that it’s safe for them to come back and it’s important that they know that they can trust you to keep them safe.
You can demonstrate your commitment to actively listening to colleagues’ concerns by providing convenient tools to collect feedback: Microsoft forms is a great place to start, and if you’re looking at creating automated processes, you can go a step further by creating a PowerApp.
What is your plan for communicating to your teams and how do you set out clear expectations for coming back to the office? How do you empathetically listen to colleagues’ concern? How do you close off feedback loops to make sure that people have had their questions answered? All of these things need to be factored in and I have found that, when there is a gap in communication, people will make up their own stories to fill these gaps. You are always better ‘over communicating’ in times of change.
Providing a centralised platform to publicise news is announcements is key to an effective communication strategy. This new-found area creates a safe space for colleagues to discuss and react to news and it is important to align tools with purpose and establish “champions” to ensure the right conversations are happening in the right places.
Once the platform and strategy are in place, you will want to build out regular content to keep colleagues captivated and engaged: creating a content schedule where you can signpost regular meetings such as an “All Hands” or “Lunch and Learns”, can coincide with relevant articles to be published on your intranet.
Winning Over People's Hearts
For some, mental health has been severely impacted over the past two years, and getting back into the office will be a wonderful thing. However, we are creatures of habit, and we have gotten used to getting up, and wearing our good shirt whilst having jogging bottoms below the visible ‘Teams’ screen. Even though at a logical level we may know that going back to the office will be good – as employers we need to win over people’s hearts and show them that we want them back in the office because we have missed them and care about them. For us at Perspicuity we are like a family, and being in the office is a big part of our culture! We are aiming to engage our amazing colleagues and work with them to collaborate in the best, safest way possible.
Internally, we are utilising desk booking applications with floor plans so colleagues can get familiar with the space they are working from before they have stepped foot in the office. To help bring colleagues back in, we have built regular activities like Friday morning yoga, Wednesday walks and Monday meditation to bring colleagues together, safely, whilst doing activities in an informal and fun environment. Down the line, we are building specific spaces for colleagues to collaborate, take 5, or just have a silent space to work from all managed within a booking system.
Our role in creating a great place to work is multi-faceted and complex, but is well worth the effort that we put in. Let's use the great technology available to us while having a people first approach.