Over the last few weeks, many of our clients have informed us they are struggling with people physically returning back to the office. Whilst the Victorian Government has increased the capacity of people allowed in offices, this increase is not actually translating to an increase in people coming back in. It begs the question not only as to why, but what can organisations do to encourage and support their people to return.
A number of factors are influencing one’s experience as they return to work, including high levels of uncertainty created by the pandemic which has led to increased levels of anxiety and poor mental health for many workers. People may feel reluctant to return, and express concerns around COVID-19 related risks (either on site, whilst traveling for work, or when visiting external sites as part of their role).
Additional factors such as their non-work commitments (i.e. carer responsibilities) and other less tangible concerns, such as a loss of confidence, lack of clarity about company and colleague expectations, awkwardness about returning to the office and adjusting to social contact and norms are also not uncommon. Transitioning back into a workplace and routines can be difficult for many, and it is essential that the mental health and wellbeing of workers are not neglected as businesses look to building a strong foundation for recovery, and preparation for the years ahead.
As businesses slowly navigate the return to office transition, organisations have an opportunity to embrace the lessons learned from the last twelve months. International research informs us that 88% of leaders expect organisations to develop a more hybrid-based way of working into the future. Hybrid working arrangements, which blend working remotely and working from the office, can provide an effective workable solution, and if implemented well can bring big benefits to business and their people, including a more sustainable work-life balance, improved wellbeing, and increased staff engagement and retention.
For hybrid arrangements to succeed, businesses need to prepare appropriately, considering their unique industry and workplace needs. The psychological health of staff can be easily forgotten when safety concerns spotlight the more obvious physical risks. Importantly, however, we are seeing HR teams and managers who recognise the need for a wholistic approach that joints the physical and psychological dots. Overwhelmingly, leaders are looking to use learnings from their recent experiences as they move forward, and want to embrace work arrangements that will foster the wellbeing of their people.
With this shift to hybrid working arrangements, organisations will experience their own unique set of challenges, and it is important that they look to evidence-based tools and resources to support their people at this time. Our “Hybrid Ways of Working: Navigating the early transition to hybrid work and return to office” workshop focuses on the early transition to blended working arrangements, recognising the significance of this transition and normalising the feelings that many may feel around their return. Developed and delivered by registered psychologists, our wellness series can be delivered virtually or face-to-face, and identifies a number of practical strategies and tools to assist during this time.
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