A report from Totaljobs has found 60% of UK workers believe work will never be the same again. And a third also feel work-life has changed forever as a result of the coronavirus pandemic1.
With lockdown measures easing, businesses may be considering how to return to the workplace. However, will employers get the same employees back after lockdown?
Work from home requests
Joanne Cassidy, clinical occupational health manager at BHSF, believes employers should brace themselves for requests from workers wanting to work from home.
“Homeworking seems to have gone down well with employees during lockdown with over half of workers saying they would like to work from home if they had the choice.
“Statistics have also revealed over 90% of employees believe they’re able to perform their job as normal from the comfort of their home3.
“The thought of returning to what, before this pandemic, was our norm may fill people with dread.
“The key to a successful transition in returning to the office is giving the employee a choice.
“I believe businesses should entertain the idea of employees being able to work from home. And it can work, as the statistics highlight.”
Research has found one in five people who are experiencing poor mental wellbeing said work is causing them the most stress in their daily lives.
35% of people are thought to be struggling with their mental wellbeing as a result of the pandemic, with many saying support from employers could help ease the stress they’re experiencing on a daily basis4.
Tracey Paxton, managing director responsible for BHSF RISE and related services, has the view businesses need to ensure employees have access to mental health services.
“Looking after our mental health is of extreme importance. Our in-house service offers guidance to meet people’s needs and tackle issues presented by clients during these unprecedented times.
“Increase in demand for mental health support following the pandemic will require organisations to ensure their employees have access to support which provides the highest standards of clinical expertise and service delivery.”
Back into work
As employers consider how their employees can return to work safely, Cassidy believes businesses must listen to their employees.
“It may be that employers have to consider showing a bit more flexibility post-COVID to help their employees settle back into their working environment, and consider staggered returns to work.
“Planning ahead and communication with employees is key to a smooth transition back to work and employers who successfully handle this will be those who have maintained employee trust.
“Employees who have family members at greater risk from COVID-19 will understandably be concerned about returning to work. Hence the need for employers to give employees the choice of where and when to work.
“Employees also need reassuring safety measures will be in place on their return to the workplace.
“It’s the role of the employer to make sure workplace risk assessments have been carried out, develop cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures and maintain physical distancing. Floor tape is a cost-effective way to visualise physical distancing guidelines.”
Cassidy has also urged businesses to seek external support to make the transition easier for employees as they return to the office.
“Businesses may wish to reach out to occupational health providers for advice and support, and consider offering a test to their employees as they get back to work.
“BHSF can offer a variety of services to help companies get their staff back to work safely. This can include temperature testing and a health questionnaire screening, to ensure staff are fit and well.”