In our previous blog we discussed what the office of 2021 might look like. Offices have changed forever but how ready are we to return? For some it’s the dream to get back to a professional and peaceful environment without webcams and regular interruptions from their kids. But for others it’s a daunting prospect and they’re not quite ready to ditch the comfy loungewear and embrace the lengthy commute again.

Employees have got used to a different and more flexible way of working, benefiting from a better work-life balance and many may be reluctant to relinquish that. But video calls, virtual quizzes and frequent catch ups can’t replace face-to-face interactions between a team.

Predicting office trends for 2021 is a tricky business but with the vaccine rollout it’s reasonable to assume there will be some return to office life this year. However, remote working and our favourite teammate Zoom aren’t going anywhere. We believe that for the rest of the year the ‘hybrid worker’ will be commonplace where employees get into the mindset of a daily commute for set days of the week but also have the flexibility, albeit defined, of working from home.

So how can you and your company help your employees feel comfortable, safe and maybe even excited to get back in the office?

Before we even get into the office it’s vital to keep talking to your employees and for them to continue building social relationships with their colleagues. Conversations about the future are really important and why not ask them to contribute to the future design of the office and workspace? This will not only make them feel involved and listened to, but also minimise any concerns over proximity as some simply won’t feel comfortable around groups of people after more than a year of social distancing.

Businesses should plan a phased return to avoid overloading people mentally, emotionally and maybe even physically. The impact of prolonged remote working on many people’s mental health shouldn’t be underestimated. Induction programmes, health and safety briefings and the availability of mental health support are all essential. Covid will have impacted many employees directly or indirectly so creating the opportunity to share experiences with colleagues is something to encourage.

Finally, you might need to make alterations to your property such as ventilation and air conditioning or require a larger area so social distancing can be maintained. This can sound daunting and expensive but our Commercial Property team can help ensure that you have an office environment that is Covid safe without breaking the bank.

If your commercial property needs have changed due to the pandemic then please contact our team to discuss your new requirements on 020 70611100 or Elizabeth.adams@awh.co.uk.