What Every Employer Must Consider When Returning To Office

Mr. Kamal Artwani, head of Human Resources at Sony Research India, pens down his views on the Return to Office movement. His views on how employers can be more empathetic towards the needs of the employees and how a hybrid style of working can be a win-win for everyone.

The current scenario:

In 2020, the Covid-induced lockdown brought forth its own set of challenges. Employees were tasked with their work as they would be in a corporate environment, whilst also juggling between their home activities, thereby struggling to maintain a balance between the two. Fast forward to two years later, in the current scenario, a significant drop in Covid cases coupled with a successful vaccination programme has led many employers to start thinking about reopening their offices. The decline in the Covid cases has reoriented employers with a sense of stability which has led to decisions in favor of re-opening offices and having their staff pour back in.

Returning to your office can be challenging:

However, the current challenge is returning to your office, getting back into the routine, and balancing family life which can be stressful for many. This transition has led to hesitation from many with anxiety around their safety and health, in addition to the fact that people with children and the elderly at home need to be doubly careful. Although, many feel that it is a relief to be back to the old routine, restarting their social life, the return to the corporate realm has generated feelings of anxiety, for employees on both sides of the fence.

For some, it is a chance at normalcy, re-discovering friendships, and going back to the feeling of life as we knew it. For others, it is an indicator of the outside threat, social anxiety, and a safety hazard, especially for those with vulnerable family members at home. How an individual reacts is determined by two factors, their personality and the office environment created by the employers.

Employers are putting in place policies to help relieve anxieties of resuming work:

To combat the feeling of stress, employers are putting policies in place to allow people to return to physical offices in a flexible manner that promotes collaboration and work-life balance. They are being empathetic and allowing their employees time to settle instead of imposing tight controls, which will help relieve anxieties of resuming work in offices.

A flexible style of working can increase productivity:

Experts say that employers must now move into the realm of understanding and addressing challenges more carefully and compassionately by looking into mental and emotional needs at the workplace. A flexible style of working will be ideal, subject to the nature/type of work employees are in for and employers can design strategies that ensure a seamless and rewarding experience for the employees by helping them increase productivity.

Owing to the changes that have occurred over the world recently, the corporate atmosphere must strive to be a blend of accountability, performance, and expectations, with an equal measure of consideration, empathy, and patience. Various hybrid models could be incorporated within organisations, enabling their employees to operate physically as well as remotely to ensure a balance of productivity and safety. This must also be done for the mental impact that sudden changes can cause people, ranging from discomfort to stress and physical fatigue.

All in all, an employee is much more than a cog in the works, and ensuring their peace of mind does not just enable them to perform, but in fact, increases their productivity. 

I believe that these are the new-normal mantras that employers should aim for…

  1. “Take it one day at a time”.
  2. “Be optimistic and understand that it will take a little time to settle”
  3. “Keep talking to people as we are all in the same boat”.

 

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