40 days ago
It’s safe to say that for many people, the last six months of temporary home working have been challenging. Managing the way we work and feel without face-to-face social interaction - and the structure of a typical workday - isn’t easy, but most of us are now pretty used to it.
As people begin to return to the office in-part, new challenges may crop up around collaboration – how to have a meeting when half the people are together and half are at home, around emotional wellbeing – feeling safe and confident in your new working pattern, or helping your team to do so as a manager, and around where to get lunch from one day to the next!
Split-team working is designed to minimise the risk of infection, to keep colleagues safe and ensure business continuity. And, although returning to the office will bring a rush of joy associated with social connection for some, for others it may amplify their overall sense of displacement.
So, what can we do to help keep our balance, both from an emotional wellbeing and a working together point of view?
Reset expectations with ourselves, and with our teams or stakeholders if needed. If you’ve been working more flexible hours during the last six months and your pattern is now going to change to more regular office hours, let people know. Similarly, know that other people’s work schedules may differ to what you’ve become accustomed to.
Don’t let split team working come between us. Let’s say you want to arrange a meeting with the rest of the team, but half are at home and half are in the office – consider everyone’s practical needs, and how it might feel. If those who are in the office are in a meeting room practising social distancing consider the audio quality, and ensuring those who are at home have chance to speak.
Use office and home days wisely. It won’t always be possible to book meetings for the days you’re using the office, so it’s good practice to review your week ahead and take a look at the opportunities to move things around to suit the time you have available. For example, you could save e-learning, long calls or document creation for the days you’re at home.
Sort your kit out and seize new opportunities. If you or your team is working partially from home and partially in the office, make sure you have all the equipment and software needed in both locations. Be clear on what you need, and if you’re a team manager, facilitate the requirements. Being in two locations might highlight a need or a chance for colleagues to be involved in a new challenge or project – so keep an eye out for opportunities.
Model optimism and help colleagues along the way. Optimism is contagious. It’s been a heck of a year, but those who have returned to the offices so far have found it a good experience. If that’s you – share the hopefulness and confidence with your colleagues and help them find their way. Know that any feedback you have on your experience will go to make a better one for your colleagues, and be sure to share your thoughts and suggestions with our facilities teams.
Keep an eye (or a webcam) on each other. Make it clear to your colleagues that their wellbeing matters to you. Take time to periodically ask how they’re feeling. Be part of their psychological safety net — help to make colleagues feel included, safe to contribute, safe to challenge and safe to share, all without fear of being embarrassed.
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