Workers have been working remotely on their notebooks for the last nine months or so – ever since the government recommended that they do so back in March. Critical leadership skills for the workplace after the pandemic has changed. We’ve gone from general apathy towards the virus to all-out fear. A lot of workers are wary of being around other people again, just in case they accidentally pick up the virus.
Leaders in businesses are, therefore, having to deal with a new challenge – how to make people feel comfortable when they return to the office environment. Workers are rightly concerned that they might get sick, just from showing up to work. And many of them feel that their employers should provide them with options in this regard. They shouldn’t just insist that they come into work as normal. That’s not fair.
Given this situation, there is a real risk that the pandemic will create animosity between workers and their employers. Leaders who take a heavy-handed approach risk being seen as tyrants who don’t respect the rights of individuals to avoid disease.
So what’s the solution here?
Be Clear That Returning To The Office Is Voluntary
The moment you tell people that they have to return to the office as a matter of policy, they’ll resist you. Nobody likes being told what to do. It’s humiliating. And when real risks are involved, it can create a lot of anger.
The best approach is to tell people when the office is opening and that they’re “free to return to work as soon as possible.”
This sort of light tough is probably going to be more effective for your company in the long-run. While some people will choose to stay home, they’ll eventually start feeling the pull of the office and they won’t want to be the odd one out – the only person staying home. They’ll want to feel like a part of the team.
Don’t underestimate the power of social pressure to get people into the office. Most workers want to be in the thick of the action, making decisions with colleagues about where to take the business next. They don’t want to have a feeling of being set adrift by themselves.
Buy New Cleaning Equipment And Advertise It
Leaders should also seek to buy new cleaning equipment and advertise the fact that they are using it to their employees. Cleaning Equipment 4 U says that there are now all kinds of sanitizing units companies can buy to eliminate virus particles and keep their people safe.
Make a point of the fact that you’re getting all of this stuff in to keep the office safe and then hire cleaners to use it during office hours. This type of approach is both material and psychological – it does reduce the risk of transmission, and it makes people feel safe.
Give Workers Responsibility
Lastly, be sure to give your workers responsibility for infection control. Get them to own it and take it onboard. Make it something that’s within their power. That way, you can reduce fear and shift the burden onto them.