This week has seen the UK edge ever closer to a return to some semblance of normality. Our beloved pubs have reopened outdoors alongside gyms, non-essential retail and most outdoor attractions and settings.
With our next step out of lockdown due no sooner than the 17th May, many people continue to work from home. Government advice remains encouraging to work from home where possible with a suggestion that this guidance may change upon a review of social distancing measures.
There are little under five weeks until this next review which may dictate a change for many employees that are currently remote; businesses and HR leaders must now begin planning for a return to the office – if they are returning to the office at all, that is!
Many businesses will likely take baby steps with any kind of return to the office with staggered start times, a hybrid work model and thorough employee consultation. While being physically apart may make all-hands discussions more challenging; your HR software will be a crucial tool to the success of any return-to-work plans and overall strategy.
Read on for just a few of the ways that your HR software can support your plans to return to the office:
Gather regular feedback
After over a year of remote work, social distancing and isolation; it is likely that your employees may be feeling anxious or nervous about returning to the office.
With any phased return to the office, you can use your HR software to gather frequent feedback from your employees. Whether this is a simple pulse survey or a more in-depth feedback survey; these snapshots of employee sentiment can help you to form a strategy for returning to the office that allays the worry and reassures your employees that you are doing everything to support them.
Routinely conducting surveys before and after returning to work can help your HR team and wider business leaders to understand if your return-to-work strategy has been well-received, and whether there are any areas for improvement.
Inform employees of health and safety measures in place
As businesses look ahead to a return to the workplace, more rigorous health and safety measures are likely to be required over and above an employer’s normal obligations.
With changes to social distancing guidelines and other measures not expected until after 17th May, it is difficult for employers to plan their health and safety measures in the office until this is clearer.
What is key, however, is that any measures put in place with a view to returning to the office should be communicated out to employees in good time, so they are able to absorb and understand the modifications being made in the workplace.
Using your HR software, you can introduce any changes to your health and safety policy documents, share COVID-safe guidance documents or even distribute photographs of any office modifications that you have made. With this information being stored and shared from one central location that all of your employees have access to, you can ensure that your update has been communicated effectively to all affected employees, and it provides a central repository for employees to reference at a later date.
Ensure frequent, transparent communication
Following from our previous point on communicating any policy changes; it is just as crucial to ensure frequent communication with your employees that is both open and transparent. Give your team as much notice as possible with a proposed date for a return to the office, share updates on any changes you’ve made and what is expected from employees, too.
Whether you’ve made changes to working patterns, updated your flexible working policy or are providing more tools and technology to support a hybrid working model, tell your employees about this in good time.
Similarly, you can use your HR software to effortless manage your employees’ access to any new assets or systems, notify them of any contractual changes that are being made to enable flexible working and much more.
Looking for more advice on a return to the office?
We were lucky enough to interview the Founder of Management & Safety Training Ltd, Andy Farrall, who specialises in health and safety recently. We asked Andy eight key questions that will undoubtedly provide food for thought in-preparing for the anticipated office return. Read the full Q&A here.