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Over the last year many of us have experienced the biggest workplace disruption in recent history. In addition to many offices shutting their doors and shops moving to a completely online model, many Australians had to pack up and work from home indefinitely.
But with vaccines now being rolled out, Australians are slowly transitioning back into the office after an extended period working remotely. So, what should be your top considerations?
When the COVID 19 pandemic was in full force, businesses right around the country were required to either shut their doors or figure out a way to keep operations running entirely online. It was a challenging time for many, but the results from the Evolving Workplace Report by Choosi speak for themselves: 83% of people absolutely love working from home, and 92% of remote workers feel their employer has dealt with things well.
So what does that mean for the future, especially now that the vaccine rollout is hopefully expected to wrap up by the end of 2021 and people are already returning to their offices?
Could “hybrid” working be the future of the workplace, where employees spend a portion of their billable hours in the workplace, and some working from home? For many Australians, working remotely during the height of the pandemic was a possibility, and with so many productivity and cost-saving benefits, the future could be looking significantly more hybrid.
However, some industries weren’t able to work completely remotely – some customer-facing sectors like retail and hospitality struggled during the height of the pandemic, and many attempted to adapt by moving their services online. It is also important to consider that hybrid working isn’t available to everyone, for example essential workers who look after patients at hospital, or people who work in the public transport system.
According to the Evolving Workplace Report, the top preference for the ideal working-from-home environment is an ‘even split between home and workplace’ (38%) followed by ‘mostly working from home’ (28%). While this will likely mean some days spent in the office and the rest of the week working from home, it will still require some consideration before making the switch back to office life – especially if you have kids or pets.
When Parentline QLD & NT asked parents if they were ready to get ‘back to normal’, half of them said they weren’t, citing stress and anxiety about everything from their general health, to not being able to spend as much time with their family. So it makes sense that the Evolving Workplace Report found that three in four Australian workers now expect mental health and general wellbeing support from their workplace.
With all the disruption caused by COVID-19 and the sudden shift into a home office, it may take some time to readjust to the office. That’s why establishing a back-to-work routine can help everyone transition more positively.
Being able to spend more time with your children was – for the most part! – a happy by-product of the pandemic. So if you or your children are upset about you returning to the office and no longer being available 24/7, help them settle by transitioning slowly. Wherever possible, start back at the office just one or two days per week, or half-days if possible. Also create a plan for their own return to ‘normal’, whether that’s back to school, daycare or otherwise.
Make sure you listen to your children’s concerns and validate their feelings during the transition. Most importantly, problem-solve any big issues together as a team. Simply talking through their worries about you returning to work can help empower your child and improve their own problem-solving skills.
Whether you’ve had your pet for years or you adopted a furry friend during the stressful times of COVID-19, they’ve likely become accustomed to having you around all the time. To help ease them back into a normal routine without getting them stressed that you’re abandoning them, make the shift slowly wherever possible.
Ensure your companion gets regular spots of alone time before you go back into the office. If they are comfortable, have food and water, as well as toys for mental stimulation and enrichment, they will begin to feel secure when they are alone.
The RPSCA recommends making arrivals and departures boring – that way, they won’t get overexcited or depressed when you start to leave for work. Also, make sure your pet gets a bit of exercise before you head out for the day, as this will give them a chance to burn off any excess energy that can lead to them stressing when you leave.
A major life change like moving from completely remote work back into the office can be a good time to reflect on what’s most important. Whether that means upskilling for the future, thinking about a career change, or ensuring you have the right level of life insurance in place if your family members rely on your income, in case you were to suffer a terminal illness or pass away.
Thanks to Choosi for this terrific article.