There’s never been such an emphasis on wellness at work. We’ve discussedwork-life balance for years – but coronavirus and the potential perils of returning to work have made it a top issue for today’s workplace leaders.
And – maybe for the first time – businesses are putting an economic value on worker health and wellbeing.
For instance, the newly-published Asian Development Report for 2020, says wellness measures such as creating a work environment that emphasises healthy habits can contribute to an area’s economic recovery.
That makes sense. Ill or scared workers can’t be productive – and with the UK government urging workers to work from home once again where possible, health has reaffirmed its place at the top of the agenda.
But what Covid19 and the public response have also demonstrated is that a one-size-fits-all is no way to create a successful return to work strategy.
One person’s normal may be another person’s stress-trigger.
So organisations can’t adopt a one-size-fits-all approach in this sensitive area.
Giving staff confidence that they come back and work in safety requires a personalised approach and differs for every workplace.
Working from home must be part of a balanced approach, which really responds to:
- The requirements of the company
- The activity to be undertaken
- The needs of the employee
- The technology and other factors available to support home working.
We’ve seen many different approaches to getting back to the office – workers in bubbles, or on staggered rotas or even shifts. One major international organisation even offered cash incentives to employees who work in the office.
The truth is, many workers who come back to the office do it simply for the buzz. For the laughs, the collaboration, the learning – all the things we can struggle to achieve by video alone.
So how do we put a focus on these very human elements, and support everyone’s efforts to create a workplace that works?
Supporting wellness in your workplace
Any working from home strategy needs to be tailored with wellness in mind.
So if someone lives on their own, a bike ride away from the office, and needs the office set up for their wellbeing and productivity, why make rules compulsory?
This is an area where one size definitely does NOT fit all.
It’s better to create levels of flexibility that enable a close match to the real –life situation and promote a best-in-class combination of safety and mental health.
Acas, the UK and conciliation service, has advice on how to spot potentially declining mental health in your staff, and warns that working from home can be isolating and challenging.
It recommends supporting worker wellness by:
- Keeping your colleagues in regular contact
- Making sure managers and workers talk regularly
- Raising and responding to any concerns about coming into the workplace.
Great people management is crucial – even more than in pre-Covid working situations.
And in the current times, workspace technology can provide serious help.
For the moment at least, workers will be thinking hard about their own personal circumstances before they journey into the office.
To give them the confidence to make that move, your response needs to be customised. Workspace technology such as desk booking software can underpin your efforts in several ways.
1. Securing a workspace: selecting and booking a desk before travelling to the office, via a mobile app, gives your workers peace of mind that they can enter the office and not look for somewhere to sit.
2. Soothing safety concerns: The desk booking software app shows when a space has been cleaned and sanitised.
3. Contactless checking: Each desk or room reservation generates a QR code that the worker uses to check in and out of the reserved space.
4. Collaborating with colleagues: Workers can book space where they are co-located with colleagues while they are working on the same project – it’s a safe and healthy way to collaborate.
5. Hybrid meetings: Workspace technology makes it easy to organise meetings where some people are present and some are video conferencing – even in different locations and time zones. It’s a great way to keep a remote workforce in close touch.
6. Managing visitors: Keeping your workplace safe is not just about managing your own staff – it’s about being careful with visitors and contractors too.
Workspace technology provides safeguards ranging from zero-touch check in and out at your reception to sophisticated digital signage that guides visitors straight to the appropriate area of the building.
There’s nothing certain about this crisis, and workplaces around the world will continue to respond flexibly as requirements evolve and change.
That doesn’t mean organisations should be relying on guesswork, though – and this is another area where workspace technology provides important assistance.
Capturing data on workforce movements and workspace utilisation in real time provides excellent management reports on which to base strategic decisions – see our latest blog on data supported decision making.
Is the world of work changed forever?
We think it probably is – even once the threat of coronavirus recedes. Surveys worldwide show people enjoy homeworking, and organisations have found it surprisingly viable.
As businesses are forced to focus on worker wellbeing as an important economic factor, the workplace will continue to evolve. Wellness will hopefully keep its place at or near the top of the corporate agenda.
In the meantime, the focus for every business needs to be on growing a where-to-work policy that reduces risk in all areas; virus exposure and wellness in particular.
If you don’t have the technology support you need, now’s the time to get it. It’s one way to make sure these troubled times create a positive operational legacy that will continue to pay off – no matter how this pandemic eventually pans out.