From LinkedIn polls to opinion pieces in the press, the question on everyone’s lips is “when are you heading back to the office?” With one look at the comments section on any workplace-related post, it’s safe to say reactions are mixed. From missing the office to dreading its return, your employee’s preferences on heading back or staying at home will differ from person to person. But as an employer, your post-Covid strategy will require the help of your whole team, and there’s no better place to strategise than a positive workspace.
We’ve listed three reasons why now is the time to open your office doors and what our tried and tested re-opening strategy is:
1. The work-life imbalance
While the working from home experience has been different for everyone, more and more people are reporting longer working days and that their work is intruding on their personal space as they’re working more hours than ever before.
Worse still, as the pandemic hit so quickly, many employees weren’t equipped to work from home. Using ironing boards as desks and taking conference calls in the bathroom to keep the kids out of the way, the impractical way of working from home is taking its toll on your teams’ mental and physical health.
This, combined with struggling to switch off as their working space is also their living space, means your employees are likely looking forward to reinstating the essential work-life divide. Bringing your team back now will offer a much-needed dose of balance in their everyday lives!
Fact: “Nearly half (48%) of those surveyed by the IES said they were putting in longer and more irregular hours than they normally would” saying they feel like they’re “living at work, rather than working from home”!
2. The positive workplace works best in the workspace
It’s undeniable that even the most introverted colleagues will miss some aspect of the office. From sharing innovative ideas in the boardroom to good news over the water cooler, your positive workplace allows your teams to work cohesively and collaboratively while enjoying the mental health benefits of socialising with colleagues.
Not just that, after months at home, the atmosphere of your office will redeliver your brand and culture messages. With news of a recession and time to consider what the future holds, now is a crucial time to bring a sense of normality into your team’s life, encouraging workplace loyalty and productivity.
Case Study: We’ve recently helped our friends at Haines Watts turn their positive workplaces in Birmingham and London to Covid secure workspaces. We helped them make their spaces more agile so they were ready for any changes in working life! Check out more information about their new ways of working here.
3. It’s better for your team’s health
Speaking to our clients throughout lockdown, we’ve heard it all: desk setups in windowless bedrooms, backache from sitting at the kitchen table all day and working from the sofa or bed for lack of any other space. But as anyone who has experienced this for the last 6 months will know, it’s taking its toll on their physical health.
With a lack of fresh air flow, proper equipment, and ergonomic seating, your team are unknowingly working their way towards back pain, eye damage and muscle soreness. According to Personnel Today, of the employees who have been working from home during lockdown, a staggering “58% complained of neck pain, 56% experienced shoulder pain and 55% had experienced back pain.” Sound familiar? Your positive workplace is the best place to be.
Fact: “Two-thirds (63%) of British homeworkers are in pain as a result of their makeshift home offices, new research by Bupa UK shows.”
Our re-opening strategy experience
At Blue Jelly, we’re moving into Phase 2 of our ‘Back to the Workplace’ strategy. As we do this, we’re reflecting on the feedback from both our team and conversations we’ve had with our clients about their experiences throughout the lockdown period which defined our version of the new normal.
As part of phase 1, we re-opened our office on 1st July. Starting with clear communication with the team, we developed a floor plan to encourage social distancing, created sanitisation hot spots and advised how to conduct meetings in line with government guidelines.
One of our first priorities was scheduling catch-up meetings in the office; this was crucial to the success of our reopening as our team’s feedback highlighted that they missed in-person ideation meetings. With the team feeling comfortable in their space, we then offered free company lunches once a week to give the team an opportunity to make up on some sorely missed social interaction time.
However, as the weeks rolled on, our team’s feedback inspired another change: mandatory days in the office. While this sounds strict, the reality was that when people came into the office, it was not always guaranteed there would be anyone else there. After speaking to our clients, it turns out they experienced something similar too. Lacking the benefit of social interaction, we asked our team and encouraged our clients to pick their favourite days and then set which days we’d be working collaboratively, and when we’d be working from home.
This balance between culture and work-life balance proved to be a common theme between our team and our clients too. While employees missed the office, they enjoyed the freedom and flexibility of working from home too. For us, this was the biggest lesson from lockdown; embracing new ways of working and fostering a new way of working.
As we move into Phase 2 of our strategy, we’re working as a team to redefine what we have always called The Blue Jelly Thing!
Now you have all the reasons you need to open the doors to your workplace, you may be wondering “what next?” Opening your office during these uncertain times can be stressful and daunting.
Our team are experts in workspace design. With 18 years of experience, we’ve created positive workplaces for organisations in a variety of industries all around the world.
To find out how we can help you create your best workspace yet, contact our team today.