To say that the last 18 months have been hard for everyone would be an understatement. The pandemic lockdowns have left no one unscathed. People have lost loved ones to Covid19, home lives have been disrupted, and our tenacity has been tested.
Adjusting to working from home provided its own challenges. From finding a space to work and maintaining enough WIFI to managing the loneliness of isolation, and everything in-between. And now, with many settled into their remote working lifestyle, it is all about to change again.
Ireland Returning To The Workplace
For many, the news that Ireland was reopening on September 20th was unwelcome news. A recent survey by Solas IT Recruitment found that more than 50% of workers want to stay working remotely full-time. A further 42% are open to a hybrid model of office and remote working. At the same time, only 6% wanted to be back in the office entirely.
Whichever working model you choose, it is vital to support employees on their return to the office. Employers should expect that their teams will be feeling anxious about returning. For a smooth transition back into office life, employers must provide practical support for their staff. Here are four ways you can support your employees as Ireland returns to the workplace.
Flexible Working Arrangements
Lifestyles have changed dramatically since March 2020. As Ireland adjusted to working from home and social restrictions, the way that we worked changed too. Working hours relaxed to allow employees to manage their health and their other commitments like childcare. Employers became open to the idea of irregular hours as long as the work quality was maintained.
As a result, employees who were once trapped in commuter traffic twice a day were now free to spend time as they wished. Be that with their family, exercising, checking in with neighbours or just relaxing. With the return to office-based work, those employees are bound to feel some anxiety. They might even feel resentment about having to give up the work-life balance they have enjoyed.
Some companies have recognised the difficulty of the shift back to the office and are maintaining that flexible work-life approach. Technology giant, Canva announced that staff are only required to be in the office eight times a year. While LinkedIn and its parent company Microsoft announced on TechCheck that they are keeping the return to work flexible.
Flexible working arrangements don’t suit everyone or every company. However, finding a compromise that does work could mean happier staff and less burnout. Flexible working models to consider include:
- A hybrid work from home – office approach.
- Flexibility of working hours to help avoid traffic or create better worklife balance.
- A set number of days per year where staff can work from anywhere in the world.
Provide Mental Health Support and Training
The Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions have impacted mental health in Ireland in many ways. As they return to work there are different ways that you can support your employees.
Mental Health Breaks – One initiative recently modelled by Nike is to give staff a mental health break. Nike closed its corporate office for a week which may or may not be practical for your business. Consider providing an optional days leave for mental health wellness or a half-day.
Mental Health Training – It isn’t always obvious that someone is struggling with their mental health. Providing managers with training on how to recognise signs that someone might need help can make a big difference. Likewise, providing training that helps employees to promote positive mental health and support recovery can create stronger teams. Learning Curve Ireland and Mental Health Ireland both provide workplace and online workshops.
Mental Health Resources – Like any medical illness, mental health should be supported by professionals. When a member of your team reaches out for help, ensure that you know what resources to provide or refer them to. Providing mental health support might include providing access to a counsellor or GP as part of a health benefits scheme. Alternatively, include resource awareness as part of your training to help employees with their recovery.
Help Them Feel Safe
Despite Ireland’s high percentage of vaccinated adults, there is still concern about the risks of returning to crowded offices. The Covid-19 pandemic took a lot of us by surprise so the rise of health anxiety is understandable.
Helping your teams feel safe on their return to the office is key. Though the government-mandated requirements for masks and social distancing may reduce, staff may prefer to keep them. Ensure offices are clean and properly spaced to help employees relax back into work better. Proper ventilation and screens may also help with the return phase.
You might even consider some alternative systems. Create Media group in Dubai introduced a colour-coded wristband system to help staff communicate their social distancing preference.
Like anything, how you communicate the return to the office with staff is important. With so much uncertainty for close to two years, clear communication will helps employee manage their expectations and concerns.
When communicating with your teams about the return, the when and how should be very clear. Include details for how offices will be kept safe and be open to questions and new ideas about flexible working. Most of all, remember that your employees hunkered down and continued to work hard in unprecedented times.
At Solas IT Recruitment, we specialise in the permanent and contract placement of IT professionals in specific technical markets, filling positions ranging from Graduate Developer level to Senior Managerial roles. For more information about how we can help you with your next IT hire, get in touch on 01 244 9520 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.