So much valuable content emerged in the discussions that this article summarises some of the key points and includes links to the articles shared by our guests and speakers. There are also links to the recordings of both sessions.
If you need any reassurance or advice on the subject of ‘Returning to the Workplace’ this is a great place to start.
Session 1 – Friday 22nd July
Returning to the Workplace Part 1
Barnaby Clark and Lizzie Duckworth from COEL, the commercial design and fit-out company joined us to talk about the look and style of workplaces in the future as the Government safeguarding guidelines have to be implemented and why having a communal workplace is still vital to both employees and companies.
Key points that emerged during this discussion include:
- Whilst many people will continue to work from home, the office will become a destination that people choose to go to when they need to work collaboratively or feel part of the team.
- Traditional desks will become less common but those who need a fixed position in the office (e.g Accountants) should be allocated one.
- One-way systems, graphics with reminders about handwashing and distancing need to be implemented.
- Systems that encourage the booking of rooms or time in the office will help to meet the guidelines.
- There are pros and cons to both home and office working. Employees and employers need to consider practical requirements such as ergonomics, technology, connectivity, lighting and noise.
- Wellbeing is also important and needs to be encouraged whether employees are working at home or in the office.
Session 2 – Friday 29th July
Returning to the Workplace Part 2
In this session, we were joined by
- Hannah Jones – Partner at Hart Shaw Chartered Accountants
- Ruth Evered – Senior Manager at Saffery Champness Chartered Accountants
- Sophie Shepherd – Head of HR at the AAT
- Clive Webb – Head of Business Management at the ACCA
Key points that emerged during this session included:
- Trial lockdown periods before the official Government announcement helped companies to iron out teething issues and gave employees a chance to test their home set-up.
- Offering more employees the opportunity to work from home in advance of the official lockdown helped to ease the transition for many employees.
- Communication proved one of the greatest challenges and it was important to keep in touch and provide regular updates, even when there was little news.
- Saffery Champness established regular Q&A sessions to allow employees to share their thoughts and ask any questions.
- Setting up a comfortable and effective home workspace was challenging for some employees, particularly those who were juggling childcare, did not have the right technology or lived in shared accommodation.
- Replicating informal collaboration that occurs naturally in an office space is still proving difficult and new trainees, in particular, are missing the benefit of interacting with trainees of varying levels and different managers.
- There is a real variation in the progress of moving back to the office amongst our panel with some seeing 50% of employees back on a rota basis and others not returning at all.
- The international make-up of a company also has an effect on the plans to return to the office, depending on the global experiences of the company.
- The mental wellbeing of employees with regards to returning to the office needs to be considered carefully and an individual approach based on personality, available technology, home set-up, transport and personal preference works best.
Further Information and Links
If you missed our previous sessions.
In our First Think Tank Friday Fortnight, we discussed the topic of remote onboarding. You can read the key points that emerged, watch the recordings and find all the links in this article.
Our second topic focused on the remote management of junior staff. This article covers the key points, has links to view the recording of the sessions and shares resources provided by our speakers and guests.
To find out more about our programme for these sessions, click here.