COVID-19: Week 12 - Views from the CCA Network
Returning to work
Staff are being asked to complete surveys to assess their readiness for a return to the workplace. Questions focus on how comfortable they feel about returning to work, what factors are important, concerns relating to travel and transport, views on changes to job function or role and also feedback on social distancing and generally being back in the workplace.
For some, planning a return to the office is not yet taking place, some leaders stating it is still too early to make the decision. Colleagues who wish to remain at home will be given the option to unless they are not performing. There is also uncertainty due to the potentially changing rules for social distancing. Until this becomes certain it is difficult to plan effectively. Why plan to bring back a third of the team to work from the office when everyone is working effectively from home?
It is not simply a case of what blend is required in the office but more about what areas can be opened safely, which employees are unable to work from home and using these as the priorities. For those who cannot work from home, how can we get them back safely, how do we ensure the right services are in place for example clean desk policies, personal storage, and personal property so that nobody is sharing equipment. It requires an individual approach rather than a ‘one size fits all’.
There are cost implications associated with homeworking however currently the focus is on the health and wellbeing of employees. This is taking priority over additional costs and expenditure. For some, Estates Teams have been allocated set budgets for desks, chairs, and other equipment with some also using existing office equipment. Upgrading some software for example moving from Windows 7 to Windows 10 has significant benefits in connecting remotely.
The challenge for many is maintaining homeworking and focusing on team motivation and wellbeing. With schools starting to re-open across the country, considerations may need to be given to changing shifts and hours of work to continue to support parents working from home.
Some organisations are encouraging customers to engage via live-chat, social media etc versus telephone as these channels are better support from a homeworking environment.
Reward and recognition
Company-wide communication is now focused more on wellbeing and sharing success stories rather than business information. These types of communication are proving successful across all teams.
An example provided: Each Monday a note is sent calling out teams or individuals based on the work they have done. On every second Friday a large team meeting with senior management takes place and is used to call out individuals during the meet, again acknowledging their input. This type of activity has been taking place since the beginning of lockdown.
Some organisations have re-appointed a team manager to act as a wellbeing champion to arrange various fundraising activities, team quizzes etc.
For some, individual recognition of team managers has stopped as it is becoming more difficult to single out just one person. All staff have pulled together, worked hard and no longer able to nominate one person per week/month.
Some organisations are paying staff the £6 per weekly government allowance to cover utilities etc for those working from home; but not doing anything extra for those still working from the office. Others are offering a petrol allowance to colleagues travelling to other sites.
For those who considered homeworking as too difficult or challenging, the pandemic has demonstrated the massive opportunities for both company and employees. Some organisations are trying to understand the scope of this and are now turning to ‘what does good look like’ for future business models. How do we do it and how do we make it fair?
Decision making has also become more agile due to the pandemic and plans are underway to ensure the benefits of this and opportunities to transform new ways of working are not lost. Equally, ideas and opportunities need to be considered to bring people together for innovation and creativity.
Organisations with a well-established ‘employee first’ culture – empowering and enabling people to work where they need to and giving them the power to make the right decisions – has been reinforced during Covid-19.
We have just performed the biggest experiment in homeworking demonstrating that employees are no longer limited to a job they cannot commute to; now is a good time to start looking after the employees you do not want to lose.
Some initiatives have been put in place quickly and considerations are now being given to how best to formalise them and provide proper guidance.