Bosses appear eager for their employees to return to the office full-time and resume normalcy now that Covid-19 limitations have been lifted.  Although the desire to bring teams together in person, returning to what was the standard might cause more harm than good.  With psychiatrists advising us to gradually ease back into our social lives, how can leaders apply the same approach to the workplace?  Most businesses have welcomed work from home as part of a flexible schedule, allowing employees to work from home several days a week.  Most people who took up homeworking because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic planned to both work from home and in the workplace (“hybrid work”) in the future, according to data from the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN).  Since then, the proportion of workers hybrid working has risen.  A recent survey conducted by Embryo has revealed that over 30% of full-time UK employees are working a hybrid working schedule.

Yet, working from home can lead to isolation.  According to McKinsey, one in every three employees polled reported that their return to work had a detrimental impact on their mental health, citing feelings of worry, despair, or overall misery.  Some are fearful of social contact.

Here are three approaches to reintegration that can leave your employees more energetic and productive:

Socialisation should be introduced gradually

Psychologists who have studied how people react to isolation make a persuasive case for us to pace ourselves.  Suppose you’ve been isolating yourself or staying in a tiny bubble.  In that case, you may feel out of practice socialising with many co-workers, especially with new Covid customs around handshakes, masks, and indoor meals. “It could be physically and emotionally exhausting to relearn all those minor social graces you haven’t actively practised since the outbreak,” clinical psychologist Dawn Potter says.

Establish Team Rituals

Post-traumatic growth is a mindset in which an individual who has experienced trauma can attribute meaning to their experiences, enabling them to move forward positively.

As we return, introduce specific policies that explicitly prioritise periods of uninterrupted work for your staff so they can focus on their strategic priorities.  Companies like Facebook, AirBnB, and Asana have implemented “no-meeting Wednesdays,” while Citi opted for “Zoom-Free Fridays.” Atlassian workers can declare a “Get S#!t done day” where they are excused from answering emails, calls, or attending meetings.

A meeting-free day won’t work if your employees are bombarded with double the calendar invites the following day, so auditing your meeting culture can also be a helpful way to free up more time.  Are all scheduled meetings necessary?  Is everyone who is invited essential to the forum?

Create Bonding Time

Making time for bonding with colleagues may help them acclimatise to the social etiquette that was once commonplace.

We’ve grown so preoccupied with being always active that any time not spent being productive is viewed as a failure to optimise ourselves. However, great performance necessitates frequent periods of profound, restorative recovery. While some of these interventions are especially critical as we begin to put the worst of the epidemic behind us, they all address chronic mental health issues in the global workforce – burnout, stress, and anxiety.

Occupational well-being is now a topic of discussion at the board level.  Leaders are now expected to be concerned about their employees’ mental health.  This past year has been extremely taxing on both businesses and people.  By balancing efforts now, companies can determine the hybrid policy they wish to adopt and what well-being measures to put in place -for the sake of both their personnel and business.

As things settle back down, it’s time to reconnect, reward, and revitalise your team.  After all, a satisfied employee leads to a prosperous firm.

To retain and attract the best talent, incorporate equality bonding time into their schedule with team events or gatherings that will strengthen employee relationships and inject humdrum into the working calendar.

Given the abundance of Employee Assistance Programs and health certifications in the workplace, why not offer your organisation something actionable, affordable, and incorporates the entire team?  Spice Social will let your employees reconnect while working from home or transitioning back into the office.  Our corporate service enables you to fill the void with small events catering to a broader range of events than a corporation could accomplish independently.  We can provide both customised and off-the-shelf events.  We can assist you with revising your team and re-establishing those ties.  Planning regular social events, whether in the great outdoors, over a few drinks, or on a night out, will help repair connections and form solid working relationships, resulting in a happier, healthier, and more contented workforce.

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