image image 7th May 2021

Our route back to the office, building a hybrid working environment

When we look back to last March, it was what can only be described as a whirlwind. Everyone just grabbed what they thought they needed and set up a makeshift home office, but slowly gaps began to emerge as we realised that this wasn’t going to be a short-term arrangement and we’d need to prepare.

We were fortunate being a tech company, the team was already equipped with laptops and everyone was offered some form of tech support, making the transition that little bit easier. However, I think like most businesses we had to learn as we went, and just ensured lines of communication were always open – we’re lucky that our Shedders are a patient bunch, but maintaining everyone’s well-being was the focus for us throughout. We tried to replicate things we did in the office like yoga, open mics and various team building activities, some of which worked and others needed adapting. 

So now the question is, if the transition out of the office was a whirlwind, what will returning be like?

For our return this spring, we’re conducting weekly testing and limiting the number of people in the office at any given time – introducing additional returners each month and assessing the situation continuously. There are so many things to consider, so at the moment we’re taking it one week at a time and learning that flexibility is key to making this work. 

The key ingredient? Patience. Every week is different in terms of government legislation, but also in terms of how people feel. The best thing you can do is communicate with your team, check in on how they’re feeling, be transparent about changes and give people time to adapt.

People are allowed to change their mind and you need to respect the different preferences and concerns.

For some businesses it’s not easy to have a blended workforce and budgets will only stretch so far in terms of home set ups etc. I think that will be a main point of conversation around how we create a team that feels included and has everything they need to do the job but also has the work/life balance they have been craving, which they got to sample over the last year.

Staying Covid compliant is our top priority. Here are a few things we’ve been doing:

  • Adhering to the guidelines around testing, social distancing and no hotdesking.
  • Everyone has their kit and any slight sniffle means you work from home.
  • We aren’t accepting visitors into the office and are limiting the amount of people who are in at one time. 
  • We’re also mindful of the fact that we’re part of a wider community so we’re following all the government guidelines about being out and about, for example, wearing masks in stairwells and around the buildings to ensure we don’t impact any of the other businesses in the mill.

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