‘Freedom Day’ is nearly upon us and with the work from home message set to be lifted, businesses around the country are preparing to welcome back staff and activate new forms of hybrid and face-to-face working. It is important to ensure that you are ready and have all the tools and plans in place to make it easy for your colleagues to return to work in a safe and effective way.

There are two important aspects to focus on:

  1. Reimagining the physical environment at work, whilst educating colleagues on how those changes will affect them and how to operate within the new boundaries.
  2. Developing workplace flexibility for all your colleagues, ensuring you are providing the best working environment for people who are continuing to work remotely, as well as those who are coming back into the workplace.

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What measures can you put in place for a confident return to the workplace?

First things first, you need a plan of action. You need to design a safe space for all, and build service models with practical workplace upgrades, created to fully support your teams. By introducing easy to use workplace solutions supported by new dynamic workplace technology you will be able to deliver fast-paced automated solutions in the rapidly evolving workplace environment.

To help your teams come back with confidence and build trust, we’ve launched Workplace 9, a practical guide full of key markers to help you come back with confidence:

  1. Front of house, security and reception
    Managing the building access, reassuring safety for staff, customers & visitors.
  2. Cleaning
    Specialist advice and training for the new anti-virus standards, using environmentally friendly and touch-free products.
  3. Space and hybrid working
    Workplace design for all areas with physical distancing, self-cleaning equipment and additional signage.
  4. Systems & equipment
    Identify and re-energising all previously shut-down systems ensuring compliance with both regulation and industry best practice.
  5. Self-services
    Self-serve areas redesigned for vending and printers.
  6. Meeting and collaboration spaces
    Reconfigured meeting rooms and technology options suitable for hybrid working.
  7. Postal services
    Minimal contact mailing procedures and new digital processes including scanned digital post going straight to your inbox.
  8. Catering
    New ways of delivering high-quality, on-site food services ensuring choice, safety and high standards.
  9. Transport services
    Hygiene & timetables that reflect the new requirements, for work patterns and social distancing.

To find out more about Workplace 9, download our guide.

Communicating how to come back with confidence

Communication and keeping staff informed of changes to the workplace is key; so they don't dwell on the unknown and create an anxiety that doesn't need to be there. There will be people who have been away for a long period of time – a year and a half. Coming back to an environment that they knew and were familiar with but has now changed in many ways, can be overwhelming. Implementing solutions such as a buddying system or giving people virtual tours of what the workplace is going to look like when they get there can help alleviate that concern.

You also need to keep communicating because what is a requirement today might change next week. Being agile enough to change your plans and communicate effectively is more important than ever.

How do you ensure a safe and confident return to the hybrid working environment?

One of the biggest changes to come out of the last 15 months is that people now have more autonomy over their work lives. The ability to choose how they want to work, where they want to work and when they want to work. For many the return to the workplace will not be a full-time return. Hybrid working will become the new normal and the pressure is on you as a business to provide a workplace that becomes the destination of choice for your employees.

Workplaces need to be safe, they need to be comfortable, and they need to provide people with choice. If you want to keep your employees and attract new people your workplace must stimulate a feeling of health and wellbeing, creating an environment where people can collaborate, innovate, connect and exchange knowledge.

The hybrid working model brings with it several other questions like how big a workplace do you really need if only 60% of your workforce are in the physical workplace at any one time? How does your workplace support your customers? How can you reduce your energy or water usage when your building is running with a reduced capacity? How do you ensure you have agile and flexible workspace options for people to collaborate and connect safely? How do you ensure your facilities management services are agile enough to evolve with the new demands of hybrid working?

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To find out more about how EMCOR UK are creating more positive, safe and agile workplaces for all, download our new Vision 10 guide or contact workplace@emcoruk.com. Together, we can build a better world at work.