Bringing people back into the office: a light at the end of the tunnel

Written by Leigh Foster

By now, I’m sure the majority of people in the UK are aware of the road map when it comes to the easing of what we hope will be the last lockdown in the UK thanks to the volume of vaccines available, and the speed the NHS is able to deliver them to the population. As I write this there is excitement amongst everyone about life getting back to how we knew it pre March 2020.  Some are glad about the reopening of gyms, some pubs and others restaurants, but what about finally returning to work? 

It’s said that it takes between 21-28 days to form a habit, and since the first lockdown, it will be over 365 days since some having been working from home full-time…  This will mean some are deeply entrenched with the ways of working from home and may find it difficult going back into the workplace for a number of reasons.

For many, working from home has offered a lot of benefits.  I recently saw that when asked, 8 out of 10 people marked not having to commute as their main benefit, followed by working alone allows them to focus and ultimately be more productive.  Personally, having worked from home for a moderate portion of the 3 lockdowns in the UK I definitely appreciated not having to commute, but can also say that I didn’t find it more productive – It’s great being in the office environment, being around colleagues and the ability to communicate clearly.   There’s a desire to feel part of a community and belonging that you cannot get from working at home, as I feel there is genuine concern that individuals will be so used to working and living at home that they will end up cut off from the world and lose social skills that are fundamental to our everyday lives.

There are so many reasons to bring people back into the office, from performance and career growth to as mentioned above, social interaction and distinguishing what is work and what is home.  Leadership will play a huge part in bringing people back into the office, reigniting peoples sense of purpose, showing empathy as all of our situations and feelings are going to be different so ultimately patience will be needed as individuals acclimatise and re-form that habit of working in the office and around others once again.

We’ve had to learn to work differently over the past 12 months, and working from home has, on a whole, been successful as it’s kept businesses going, but we now have the opportunity to get everyone back into work and that face to face interaction that has worked so well for centuries.  But the most important thing is to move forward, improve and grow.

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