From big brands to local businesses, we’ve supplied swag to a huge range of employers – and picked up tips along the way. Employee satisfaction and wellbeing is at the heart of what we do and in our new blog we’ll be sharing what we’ve learned from working with companies around the globe. We’ll also be sharing plenty of content on swag – from our top sustainable picks, to seasonal swag, Go Blog will help you decide how to fill your packs.
We’re kicking off the blog with a focus on returning to office working. With the COVID-19 vaccination programme slowly allowing employees to return to offices, we’re taking a look at how you can ease the transition to the ‘new normal’.
Plan plan plan
It seems obvious – but good planning should be at the heart of your return to the office. Make sure to consult official guidance in your local area, but the kinds of things you’ll need to consider include:
- Who needs to be in the office? Are there team members whose roles are better suited to office working, or who would benefit from being in the office for mental health reasons?
- Occupancy levels. This will depend on local rules, but you’ll need to give some thought to how many staff you can realistically accommodate. Think about physical distancing requirements and how these will work in your office space.
- Travel. How can staff get to work safely? Can you encourage or incentivize active travel, such as walking or cycling? Can you introduce flexible working times to reduce numbers on public transport at peak times?
- Safety. What risk assessments do you need to carry out before the office can re-open? Are there at-risk staff who will require an individual risk assessment? How would you manage a COVID outbreak in the office?
Consider staff anxieties
“A recent international survey found that 100% of employees who were previously working on-site, but were now working remotely, reported anxiety about returning to the office.”
Levels of staff concern shouldn’t be underestimated. A recent international survey found that 100% of employees who were previously working on-site, but were now working remotely, reported anxiety about returning to the office. Top sources of anxiety included being exposed to COVID-19 and a reduction in flexibility. Other sources of concern included travel, mask wearing and childcare.
While you can’t completely mitigate staff concerns, there are plenty of steps you can take to make your team feel listened to and safe. Along with robust risk assessments and regular and supportive supervision, good communication and flexibility will go miles towards fostering a supportive organisational culture.
We know from research that good internal communication is key to staff wellbeing, especially when employees may have understandable concerns about returning to the office.
The kinds of things your team will appreciate good comms on include:
- When they might be expected to return to the office and how decisions will be made about who returns.
- How you will make sure the office is a safe place to work and enable staff to travel as safely as possible.
- Whether staff will have the choice to continue working at home or on a hybrid model.
Make sure you put in place mechanisms to gather staff feedback on your plans for returning to the office – and listen to the responses!
Recent research by Harvard Business School found that just over 80% of people who had been working from home did not want to return to the office full time, with most preferring to work a mix of office and home working. Another survey found that around 60% of remote staff would give preference to employers who allowed remote working, with just under 30% of respondents saying they would quit if not allowed to continue working remotely!
Give some thought to:
- Your business needs and whether you can introduce flexible/blended working for all staff, or if this is something they will need to request.
- The legal provisions around flexible working in your location – in some countries employees have a legal right to make such requests.
- A four day week! No longer a fringe idea – there is evidence to suggest employees working a four day week are happier and more productive.
Finally, spare a thought for those who joined your team during the pandemic and may never have worked in the office or met a colleague face-to-face. Consider their induction needs – organise a tour of the office and make sure they know where to get the best coffee!
Some of your existing staff might also benefit from a refresher, especially as there will be new safety guidance and rules to follow. You might want to consider a swag pack for your new starts – and old timers – to kick off your return to the office on a positive note. Check out the options here