Following this week’s announcement advising people to work from home where possible, many employers are feeling somewhat confused as to whether they should keep workplaces open or revert back to home working for all. Many have invested time and money in adapting their premises and processes to safely bring their people back with some claiming that work is possibly a safer place to be than many other social environments.
Having listened to different HR Leaders state their cases for and against home working I can totally appreciate the frustrations and I understand that no one size fits all.
As always, for me, it simply comes down to doing the right thing. I believe that the rules have been put in place with the advice of respected, intelligent people who have the insight to know what may lie ahead. These guidelines are made with good reason, despite how seemingly contradictory or confusing they appear at times.
I therefore think our priority needs to focus on protecting our people whilst also taking into account their wellbeing in the decisions we make.
Here are five things to consider:
1. In what way does home working NOT work for your business?
If you are going to insist people come in be very clear on your rationale for not allowing home working. Is it about equipment, IT, supervision… did the bottom line suffer? If you experienced issues during lock down, then you should have a real understanding of what worked and didn’t work for your people and business.
2. Saying NO could come back to bite you on the bum!
Following on from the above, consider whether these reasons stack up should the government advice change or we go back into full lockdown. Regularly changing your stance to suit you will create challenges.
3. Know your risks
As the rate of infection rises so does the likelihood that someone on your premises will contract COVID-19 or at least have potential symptoms. Should this happen, all people who work in the area will need to isolate for 14 days without any notice. Can you react quickly to this without disrupting your business?
4. Don’t assume everyone feels the same
Your team is made up of individuals who will all feel differently about the risks dependant upon their current situations, experiences and emotions. Bear in mind that not everyone who is unhappy will shout up. Making blanket assumptions that everyone will be okay with your proposed way of working could result in some people left feeling isolated or anxious.
5. The world keeps changing – and so do feelings
Remember how we all felt back in February and how quickly those feelings changed in a matter of just a few weeks? Well that may well occur again should the cases and death toll continue to creep back up – what your team members say today may well be different next week or the week after.
So, what is the answer? As I said at the start no one size fits all – every business, like its people, is different to the next.
My advice is to keep talking and, more importantly, listening to your people. If you are guided by a desire to do what’s right to protect them, then the decisions you make will always be the right ones.
Stay Safe 😊