In the midst of the new Government announcements to ‘work from home, if you can’ pending the second wave of COVID-19, businesses who have only just revelled in the joy of returning to the office now need to look to improve the previous lockdown period of working from home and find new innovative ways to combine flexible home working with the much-needed culture retained from an office environment.

The short-lived excitement of seeing your work colleagues after months of isolation, sharing parenting horror stories around the watercooler, actually sitting face to face (instead of a zoom screen) to collaborate on work, and getting into a structured life/ work balance routine had us all appreciating the true value that a safe office space brings to a business, not only for the mental wellbeing of staff but for the bottom line too.

For the majority of us, as we were thrust into balancing our home with work due to necessity, and with the anticipated imminent announcements of school closures yet again, this time around we need to create a better balance and structure for those juggling stressful home lifestyles and facilitating some respite if possible through flexible safe working solutions from the office.

Mental health in employees was at an all-time low during the lockdown period, with an estimated 2 out of 5 employees felt overwhelmed with the extra pressure and stress working from home, and 7 out of 10 felt that they were missing social interactions with others at work.

How can you help to boost and maintain the much-needed connection between homeworking and the office:

  • Working from home can create a huge disconnect; both with a “typical” work structure and the team, which leaves employees isolated and opens the door for anxiety. It’s important to touch base with the team and communicate effectively and frequently. Set up regular visual ‘team meet-ups’ with tech solutions such as ZOOM, or communication and collaboration tools such as Slack and Google Teams.
  • Don’t forget about the importance of office culture and face to face contact. The Government guidance is work from home if you can, but small groups (6 currently) can still meet in a socially distanced environment. From speaking to our clients, we’ve found periodic ‘meet-ups’ even in team bubbles can hugely increase and drive morale as well as keeping your staff connected and productive. This could be done externally, or for some the routine of driving to the office and sitting at your desk can be greatly beneficial, even for a short time.
  • Where possible, mix up work so that it involves calls with other staff, which again contributes to driving that usual team culture and allows employees to keep focused and maintain a wide range of skills

If you are one of many businesses that still need to maintain some office structure during lockdown, blending home working with office presence you may still find some of the tips above useful.

Over the past few months, we’ve spoken to lots of businesses looking to de-risk their business through alternative, more flexible office solutions and MSO is perfectly positioned to support you on your future journey. If you are considering reviewing your office space, we’d love to hear from you!

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