Over the next few weeks employees within social agencies will begin to return to work, after almost two months of working from home.
It would be unwise to assume that they will just return to where they left off back in March. For a start, social distancing rules will be in place. These will impact upon both employees and visitors.
Social distancing within our organisations is based around 6 feet of clear working space around each employee. This will be challenging for those organisations with a high head count within a confined space.
Health concerns will mean we avoid having people working close to each other, sharing facilities, hot desking and facing each other over work stations. Meeting rooms will each need to have a nominated maximum number of people at any one time.
Social agencies have a legal obligation to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all employees, volunteers, people in care and visitors. There can be no excuse for not ensuring the highest standards are adhered to. Inevitably a manager someplace is going to think they get away with cutting corners, and just as inevitably someone may end up in court. Don’t let the person be you.
Managers have a very important role to play in facilitating the return to work. Some employees may experience problems with the transition. Some will have a preference for working from home more frequently, others will be only to glad to back in the office. Some may find the transition from isolation to mass gatherings an issue. Others may be back at work as required while having concerns about their personal safety. Many will have experienced some form of social and emotional impact during isolation.
Managers need to show empathy. They should be asking constantly, R U Ok? It is important they take things slowly, listen, observe and show interest in the wellbeing of others.
John Coxon has been working with and advising social agencies in Australia and New Zealand for the past 20 years. Through his building blocks suite of diagnostic tools and his 4 Steps to Success model, he is able to help you build a viable and sustainable organisation. Email John.