COVID-19 will change the face of the workplace. As many of us return to the office, it’s becoming increasingly clear that our working environments are going to look very different. With measures such as staggered hours and breaks, socially distanced desks and enhanced hygiene measures, it’s likely workplaces are going to start to feel a bit lonely and sterile.
That’s why in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, managers need to care for employees’ mental health as much as their physical well-being. Here, we share some suggestions about creating a positive atmosphere in the socially distanced workplace.
Get the advice you need
All the advice drawn up by the four nations’ public health authorities can seem a little overwhelming. To navigate these guidelines as effectively as possible, but together a task force to design your socially distanced workplace. Include representatives from HR and outside consultancies to brainstorm how the measures will affect your team mentally.
Even once most of your team is back on site, technology can be just as helpful in the office as it was when most of the staff were working from home. For instance, online chat tools available in Microsoft Teams and Google help staff indulge in some casual chatter that social distancing might impede. Don’t see this downtime as a productivity loss – happy staff work harder.
Configuring the socially distanced workplace will be a learning curve. Make sure that you cultivate an atmosphere of adaptability, where your team can share ideas and concerns. Highlight that your door (or inbox) is always open for queries or suggestions. Another approach would be an honesty box, where employees can share their thoughts anonymously.
Bring your team together in the socially distanced workplace
Social distancing is certainly going to change how we work. These changes won’t only be about the configuration of desks or strategically placed bottles of hand sanitiser; it’s also going to be about ensuring that staff are managing the transition mentally.
The foundation of the strategies discussed above is open lines of communication. By working together, seeking advice, investing in the right tools and creating an atmosphere of openness, management can bring a team together in spite of social distancing.