With many businesses starting to open back up, are we ready to return to the office To be ready, we must understand the needs and requirements of our employees. People are emotional beings. We work better when we are in positive places emotionally. Motivation is improved when we are able to picture good visions of how our future should look. So, to create a vibrant and safe workspace for our employees, we must look past the numbers, sales and stats, and look to value and understand our staff better.
Many people have had extended time with their partners, children, and family members. It is inevitable that people have formed stronger attachments during such a difficult year, making the return to work difficult. It could lead to sadness or feelings of despondency so allowing calls, breaks, and extra communication must be something we strive to implement.
This is also a time of great heartache for many people due to illness and the loss of loved ones. There is a massive duty of care for employers to consider when maintaining their employees’ wellbeing.
A lot of our social privileges are now being handed back to us and it’s important to understand that everyone needs to go at their own pace. People have had different journeys through the pandemic so what is right for one person may not be right for the other. We have to be aware and be cautious of our surroundings and the people we have or want around us, and to let people get accustomed to the new freedoms at their own pace.
We need to learn to be more tolerant and patient of other people’s behaviour and coping mechanisms. For many, returning to a normal way of life won’t be as easy as flipping a switch. Many people may be faced with new mental health issues, physical health issues, and general feelings of being overwhelmed. As humans we are sensory, we connect with life through our five senses and through communication. As we have spent so long indoors and isolated, or semi-isolated, we have become accustomed to a certain way of life, certain foods, certain people, certain routines, and certain sights so going back to any form of normality too quickly could jolt the system. Breaking our new patterns could cause our bodies to respond in a negative way unless we are aware of ourselves and our own needs and requirements.
So, how can we make sure we’re really checking in with our employees?
Be mindful and show compassion
One of the key quotes employers can look to embrace is:
“Life, you are not responsible for the whole thing, just your part in it.’’
How you play your part will often have a direct effect on others around you. It’s time to be aware, it’s time to be mindful, and it’s time to show compassion. It has been said that we are all in the same ocean but on very different boats. Now we are all working our way back to shore so look out for the people who had the toughest sail home.
Organise allocated screen breaks
With this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week theme being nature, encourage your employees to get outside, even when working from home but especially if they’re back in the office.
Encourage them to take a walk in their local neighbourhood or park. Taking in nature is a great way to redirect their focus. Some things to encourage them to observe are:
- The cycles of plants and trees.Like them, we all have our time to blossom and bloom, but we also have our down times where we shed and wither. This is normal and okay because, as in nature, your season of bloom will come again soon enough.
- Running water, like streams and oceans. The sound of water (i.e. ocean waves, a babbling brook) is a very common audio aid for meditation. Try to simply connect to the sounds of nature and let everything else disperse from the mind. Doing this for 15-20 mins a day has massive health and mindset benefits.
- The physical feeling of your surroundings.Ground yourself by taking off your shoes and walking through the grass, or running your hands through the leaves on a tree. Mental health doesn’t only mean focusing on the emotional and spiritual feelings we may have.
If you feel your employees may be turned off by getting closer to nature but you know the benefits will far outweigh their reluctance, then incorporate it back into their day. Book in time to talk about how they felt after, even if it’s over zoom, to encourage connection and show your employees you’re committed to creating a better environment for them and their mental health.
The way humanity should be is ‘’love thy neighbour’’ and I think coming through this pandemic is the perfect time to make sure we are checking in on people we know, love, and work with. Communication is an amazing tool we take for granted because most of the time, our conversations are driven by need, especially in the business world. It’s about what we need to hear, but we should be opening up conversations about how we are coping. This won’t help with the pandemic and the feelings attached to that, but it will help far beyond these times if we can keep the conversation moving forward.
It’s important we now pay attention to others and really take note of their key attributes, how they smile, speak, look, and carry themselves. Stop and absorb the people around you. This way we can spot the subtle changes faster and be able to help a person in need quicker. It is our duty to help ourselves by helping each other adjust.