Key workers in areas such as health and social care, retail, food production and education have had to carry on with ‘business as usual’ for the last 12 months to keep our country safe and well – and what a brilliant job they have done. However, many workplaces have been closed with staff fully furloughed or working from home.
Now, with shops, pubs and restaurants and hair salons opening up from 12 April, there is change in the air. With the continuing easing of lockdown, thoughts will be turning very quickly to getting back to business and back to the physical workplace.
But, what are we returning to?
In many ways the last year has provided the catalyst for the biggest shake up in workplace culture for decades. The idea of ‘one size fits all’ working may be gone forever in some sectors. For some people the transition from furlough and social isolation back to full time work will be dreaded, for others it will be warmly welcomed. Some will be happy to go back to pre-Covid working hours and arrangements, but for others there is no going back now that more flexible ways of working have been tried and tested.
Add to this there is the on-going threat of the Covid-19 virus which has not gone away and needs to be well managed in every workplace to ensure that we are all kept safe. Overlaying everything will be the whole spectrum of different attitudes towards issues such as compulsory vaccination and testing, the wearing of masks, and social distancing in the workplace.
It promises to be a challenging time ahead and employers will need to be ready to pro-actively manage these issues so that situations do not escalate out of control and the various concerns of employees are balanced with the needs of the business.
There will be no substitute for good process, fair and consistent decision making, clear communication and genuine engagement with staff, because these are the cornerstones of effective change management in the workplace.
We are here to help you navigate the way ahead. Please get in touch.