Getting People Back to the Workplace
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The hybrid work schedule is here to stay; discover how to make it work for your organization
The Michigan Occupational Safety & Health Administration (MIOSHA) revised the COVID-19 emergency rules, effective May 24, 2021, to allow everyone the ability to transition back into the workplace. It’s a welcome transition for many, but it won’t be a complete return to the way things were before the pandemic. Many employers are adopting a hybrid work schedule that allows people to work from home and at the office. Striking an effective balance between the two places requires careful consideration. Here are some questions to consider while you determine the work arrangements that could benefit your organization while supporting individual needs.
The nature of the work
Over the last year, people have proven they can be very productive without cookie-cutter schedules. Yet, there are still many business activities which benefit from having people work together face-to-face, even if it is from beneath a mask.
Look at your organization’s roles, teams and customers to ask:
- To what extent, if any, does an employee need to be in the office to perform their work and exchange information?
- Are there certain days of the week all team members need to be at the workplace to support collaboration, innovation and idea sharing?
- Are there some days where all employees can work from home?
- Should we adopt video-meeting-free days to ease “Zoom fatigue?”
What obstacles could be in the way?
People did an incredible job adapting quickly to a work-from-home model. However, that doesn’t mean their home set-up was necessarily ideal. Typing on a laptop at the kitchen table doesn’t promote good posture. It’s easy to work long hours without remembering to take a break. Employers need to remove obstacles that hinder productivity and well-being.
Use these questions to identify obstacles:
- Do our employees have the technology needed to stay connected and keep company information secure?
- How can we make sure people have equipment that provides ergonomic support whether they’re working from home or at the workplace?
- What factors would cause employees to quit or cause someone to turn down a job? What factors will help retain and attract talent?
Personal safety needs to be the top priority. While MIOSHA allows people to return to the workplace, there’s still an infectious virus and its variants to contend with. Not everyone will or can be vaccinated. Some workers are concerned for the health of children, parents—or both—in addition to their own well-being.
As you prepare for people to return to the workplace, consider asking:
- What safety protocols are in place and how are we letting employees know about them?
- How can we empower teams to make scheduling decisions that benefit the organizations and individuals? Can we adopt a policy like General Motors; “Work Appropriately?”
- How can we help people avoid burnout whether they’re working in the office or from home?
What works at Google—or any other big name frequently making headlines—may not work for your company. The return to the workplace and creation of hybrid work schedule requires a flexible approach. Be prepared to adapt as you go on to discover what works best for your team.
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