Collaboration, COVID, and Communication: Why we need to connect in-person

As COVID-19 spread rapidly around the world in early 2020, many companies were thrown into a rapid shift to remote working. Even for organizations with remote working policies in place, scaling up to an entirely remote workforce was a huge challenge. Suddenly, we all found ourselves at home. We were now sharing our workspaces with barking dogs, children, the neighbour’s lawn mower, and new colleagues – our spouse, our flatmates, and even extended family members. An extraordinary adjustment period in any circumstance, and with the pandemic showing no signs of ending soon, we are now faced with a new challenge: how do we safely integrate in-person back into our lives?

As restrictions are gradually lifted in many countries, the focus has turned to how we live with COVID-19 in the immediate. There are a few factors to consider when thinking about the workplace; inarguably the most important is the health – physical and mental – of all employees. Many people who transitioned to working from home in early 2020 are now being asked to come back to the office, and this is creating high levels of anxiety. If your company is at the stage where you may be able to bring employees back, even on a part-time basis, having a back to the office plan developed by HR professionals is crucial. Your people are your biggest asset, so ensure your plan is up to HR standards.

Planning for logistics may take time, but a detailed plan from an HR professional can assist you in addressing these concerns. The real challenge lies in building trust with employees, so everyone feels safe to return. You’ll likely find that many of your staff have been missing time with colleagues, and although Zoom, videoconferencing, and chat channels go a long way towards enabling smooth remote working, it’s impossible to replace the value of a face-to-face chat with a co-worker.

As you build your back-to-the-office plan, some questions to ask yourself may include:

  • How will I build trust with employees?
  • What can we do to ensure a safe work environment?
  • How will we handle individual requests, e.g. for employees with medical conditions, or high-risk family members in their home?
  • How can we roll-out this plan in stages?
  • What steps will we take if restrictions or government directions change?

If you don’t have the luxury of an in-house HR team, Halkin can help. We offer support across all areas of people management, offering expert guidance that keeps you on the right side of current employee legislation, and your employees safe and happy.

Halkin can work with your business on everything from COVID and emergency management planning to hiring and termination practices, internal communication, organizational structuring, policy, Work Health & Safety (WHS) and more.   

How can Halkin Business Partners help?

We offer professional, full-service HR assistance for your business; speak to our specialists today to see how Halkin Business Partners can help you with your back-to-office planning.