The years 2020 and 2021 were difficult for many businesses. The coronavirus and Covid-19 pandemic spread rapidly and unexpectedly throughout the world, leaving chaos and havoc in its wake. Many lost their lives. Many healthcare systems were put under extreme pressure. The vast majority of us faced strict government guidelines that confined us to our homes for months and discouraged any face to face socialisation between people from different households. As an employer running a business, you would have had more problems on your plate too. Managing a company and staff throughout this time was extremely challenging. Many businesses were unable to operate while adhering to social distancing regulations and eventually collapsed. Many businesses had to make mass redundancies to get by. Other saw staff leaving for more remote jobs. The majority had to significantly change their working patterns. Now, 2022 feels a little different. Sure, nobody can say that the pandemic has gone or that it will be going away anytime soon. But vaccines are being rolled out around the world, cases are becoming less life threatening for the majority and life almost feels on its way back to normal. As a result, many of us are turning our minds to the future and are wondering how to manage our businesses best going forward. Here are some areas of consideration you may want to take into account to give your business the best chances of success during this time.
Permanent Remote Work
Many businesses have recommended that their staff work on a remote basis throughout the duration of the pandemic. At first, this may have seemed daunting. Nobody could have known how staff would react or perform from their own homes. But for many businesses, both staff and employers have been happier with remote working operations and many want to continue working this way going forward. There are, of course, benefits for both parties in this agreement. For staff, remote working means not having to spend time or money commuting to and from work. They can spend more time doing what they want outside of work hours, rather than being stuck in rush hour traffic or cramped on commuter public transport systems. They have more disposable income available. They can create a personalised and comfortable working environment for themselves. For employers, staff can prove to be just as, if not more, productive when managing their own working environment. On top of this, you save a lot of costs that come hand in hand with operating a workspace. You save commercial rent, overheads like bills, costs such as cleaning and so much more. If considering having your staff work on a permanently remote basis, discuss this change with them, ensure they are happy and then use a legal professional to take care of making changes to their contract.
A Return to the Office
Others may find that a return to the office is the best thing for them and their staff. Maybe your staff prefer a face to face working environment with facilities such as meeting rooms and ergonomically designed desks, furniture and equipment provided for them. You may have tasks that can only really be completed in person. Whatever your reason for wanting a return to a commercial premises, as this is becoming more feasible now, you’re going to have to negotiate the process well. The steps below should help with this.
Fully Clean the Premises
Many people will be reluctant or worried about returning to a busy and bustling working environment. Carrying out professional cleaning on the premises can help to put some worries at rest. Plus, chances are, if nobody has spent much time in the office for close to two years now, it will need a good clean and spruce up anyway. Contact professional cleaning companies who can undertake regular tasks such as vacuuming, dusting, wiping down surfaces, window cleaning and more. You should also call in specialists who will use equipment with spray nozzles to conduct cleaning practices like antiviral fogging. Knowing that the workplace is sterile and hygienic can encourage more people to feel comfortable spending time in there.
Implement Covid Safety Measures
As we mentioned above, Covid hasn’t gone away. You’re still going to need to implement Covid safety measures in your workspace to protect your staff and minimise the spread of the virus throughout your workforce. There are a number of measures you can take. This could include things like creating a one way system, limiting numbers of staff spending time together in smaller spaces (such as the kitchen or toilets), placing perspex barriers between desks, minimising face to face contact, implementing mask wearing in public areas and more.
Implement Social Measures
Different staff members will feel comfortable with different levels of contact during this time. As a result, many workplaces are implementing social indicators that can help people to understand who will be comfortable with people approaching them and who would rather keep their distance. Most businesses are opting for a traffic light system, allowing staff to choose wrist bands or lanyards in either red (minimal contact), orange (comfortable with contact at a distance) or green (comfortable with more face to face contact). This allows staff to create their own boundaries that they are comfortable with while working on-site.
Many employers are finding that, in one way or another, they are struggling with staff retention while implementing these changes. At the end of the day, some staff will want to stay remote and some will want a return. There are also those who settle in between. To keep as many people happy as possible, and to help with staff retention rates, you may want to consider hybrid working options. Put simply, hybrid working is a combination of both in-office and remote work. Staff will work from home some days and head into office on others. This can help to balance things out and tick as many people’s boxes as possible.
Hopefully, some of the options above will appeal to you and will work for both you and your employees. Take some time to mull it over and come to the right conclusion for your business!