As many businesses take tentative steps to welcome their teams back into a physical working place, with the added challenges of local restrictions, it’s vital to ensure mental health and support are top of the priority list.
The transition from homeworking to office-based work could be a tricky one, with difficult weeks of readjustment and flexibility ahead. That’s why we have put together a few simple steps to ensure the move goes smoothly and everyone feels supported and appreciated.
Layout and manage expectations
As teams there’s no way of predicting with any certainty, how the next few months will play out, which could be quite an intimidating thing to come back to.
Ease that intimidation by laying out your expectations of the working processes, how you want people to work together and how the company will support your team with patience, flexibility and understanding.
Explain the ‘new normal’ and how each team member fits in to that. Big up the exciting things that will happen now you’re all back together and share your goals for the business’s growth or adaptation.
Ask your team how they’d like the workplace to look and act, and how you as a leader can help them overcome any issues, problems or concerns they have.
Talk to each other about your goals
It’s vital for everyone’s mental health that communication channels are kept open and non-judgemental at all times.
Ask your team, regularly, how they’re feeling. Do this on a one-to-one basis too, so any private concerns are addressed. Ask them to tell you their goals – start with personal goals (new house, save for a holiday, planning an extension) and move onto professional goals (promotion, growth, training) and make a note of them.
Set out a plan, with each team member, to help them achieve their goals. They’ll feel supported, listened to and generally valuable as a team member.
Use the great outdoors to boost mood
As autumn creeps in and the daily commute and long working hours prevent opportunities to enjoy fresh air and sunshine, now is the optimum time to encourage your team to spend some time each day outdoors. Sunlight is crucial, not only for our physical wellbeing, but also for our mental health.
Give your team the freedom to spend some of their day outdoors. Even a ten-minute walk at lunchtime can improve a mood, but encourage walking meetings, wrap up warm and get outside.
Lockdown has been hard on everyone, in so many ways.
Even if staff have been furloughed, it’s likely they’ve been supporting older relatives, juggling home schooling or struggling with social isolation.
Returning to work may be a shock to the system so allow everyone some time to settle in before launching into plans, goals and pressures.
Allow some flexibility
Whatever your team members’ personal circumstances, uncertain times could lead to untold pressures with young families and self-isolating classes at school, elderly relatives requiring chores and shopping trips, shielding partners making full-time work difficult.
Lockdown measures look set to ebb and flow over the coming months so it’s vital to remain understanding and flexible to allow team members to adjust as they need to.