As we all become accustomed to ‘the new normal’ there are a few things which are already very apparent about the world of business, post lockdown.
Certain sectors will have to significantly down-size their business models, given that social distancing will only allow them to operate at a fraction of their original capacity. More generally, businesses across the board will find that employees returning from furlough (or from remote-working arrangements) may not engage with their employment in the same way as they did before and may have new needs and expectations.
One of the biggest challenges may actually be getting staff back into the work environment
A survey of 1000 employees carried out by YouGov for the CIPD showed that 44% agreed to feeling anxious about returning to their workplace and 31% overall were anxious about the commute to get there (rising to 52% amongst the London-based respondents).
It also seems that many workers have found home-working to be a viable alternative. Another recent survey carried out by YouGov, in conjunction with O2 and ICM revealed that 45% of workers expected to continue to work flexibly and remotely when the lockdown is lifted. A staggering 81% expected to work outside of the office at least one day per week and 33% for at least 3 days.
This all points to there being a real need to rethink the home: office mix and redefine the way that the workplace is used.
Employees may be dealing with their own challenges
This pandemic has affected so many people in a variety of ways and its unprecedented nature means that we are entering unchartered territory when it comes to mental health and well-being.
Quite understandably, feelings of anxiety and stress have increased as people have worried about their own health, that of their loved ones and their inability to interact with others as they normally would.
Many employees will have experienced bereavement (possibly made even worse by having had no opportunity to grieve) and employers will therefore need to make at least some provision for counselling.
With income having undoubtedly been affected over the last 5 months and there being a potential recession waiting in the wings, financial worries are a real factor which must be taken into consideration. A recent survey by the Office for National Statistics showed 44% of respondents thought their financial reserves would last them less than 6 months and, even with the support schemes in place, they felt that they would be unable to pay their bills by the end of the year. Returning to work may allay some of these fears but financial woes will not be quick to disappear, especially with talk of a second wave and more lockdowns.
Space, hygiene and communication
There are obviously many new challenges which must be met head-on by employers looking to successfully welcome their staff back. Strict hygiene standards and allowances for socially-distanced, safe workplaces will be tricky to apply but we are in no doubt at all that it is the sensitive handling of ‘hidden factors’ which will ensure a successful return to workplace well-being (and productivity). Communication will be key, and all channels should remain open to ensure that everyone understands their responsibilities and feels supported in every aspect of their work and home lives.
CoLaw offer practical tailored advice for businesses owners and managers to allow them to overcome whatever challenges they are facing, COVID-19 arrangements included. If you would like to speak to one of our team about how we could help you and your employees get back to a new workplace normal, simply get in touch or visit www.colaw.co.uk
The information provided in all of our blogs reflects only a narrative of some elements to consider on the topic. The blogs do not contain considered legal advice and should not be relied upon as advice. Please see our website terms and conditions for full details of our disclaimer. If you are interested in obtaining advice, please contact one of our lawyers who will be happy and able to advise you on your own particular circumstances.