Many are still reeling from the stressful experience of feeling separated from loved ones and normal daily life, others are re-evaluating their relationship with work. So as offices reopen and we once again join the commuter train, we must ask ourselves whether our organisations and offices are geared up to facilitate another transition.
Workplaces and management practises have a unique ability to influence employee wellbeing and productivity. We largely understand the healing properties of the natural environment, the role of fresh air and natural light on health. But workplaces must now go a step further to both acknowledge behaviours of anxiety, trepidation and a departure from isolation, and provide emotionally nurturing workplaces environments.
Workplaces can promote safety, healing and wellbeing by giving people choice and flexibility and promoting a culture of respect, dignity and joy. Differentiated hospitality services, such as healthy catering options can support employees in taking care of their nutritional wellbeing which can stabilise mood and energy throughout the day. Further, and perhaps most importantly, compassionate leadership providing employees with the psychological safety to share their experiences and the impact that the pandemic has had on their ability to work, is critical. By ensuring that employees have their emotions acknowledged, organisations can better understand the types of services and interventions that are needed to restabilise and reenergise the workforce after yet more change.
For many, a return to the office is partial or not possible. Organisations must ensure that any ‘future of work’ policies not only cater for the needs of those in the workplace, but also influences employee experience at home.
Regardless of how well designed a ‘future of work’ plan is, creating the right balance between nurturing and energising is likely to be complex and different for each employee. We exist in a living lab and adopting a flexible and adaptable approach to finding what works is key to ensuring that the ensuing transition is as supportive as possible.