Overcoming the emotional challenges of Covid-19 in the workplace

Jitesh Patel, CEO

Back in June, I featured on Ian King’s Sky News show with a clear statement; this is not a WFH revolution. At the time, many headlines were dominated by large corporations announcing WFH policies to continue long into 2021, some, indefinitely. As we have progressed through the year, we have worked with businesses gearing up to return to their workplaces, including our own, as the focus shifts to rebuilding the economy.

What it feels like to be back in the workplace

Our phased return to Peldon Rose HQ gave us the opportunity to test our own guidance methods, underpinned by Government guidelines to provide a safe and secure environment to support the wellbeing of our employees. Our learnings were honest, and enabled us to refine our guidance for clients, understanding every business and building is different. In return it has provided us with knowledge of how to adapt in certain situations and share the learnings with our clients and network.

Understanding the emotional challenges that businesses will face

People were (and are) scared of Coronavirus – it’s that simple. We started our phased return by introducing a skeleton team who could commute by car or foot to test the systems in the building, slowly followed by the leadership team to fully understand how it felt to return to the workplace.

After prolonged periods of limited human interaction, it was a tiring and emotional process. We quickly discovered it was normal to feel exhausted following the first few days back in the company of others - without the virtual filter, although it was clear virtual fatigue was and continues to escalate.

Covid fatigue

As quickly as unprecedented was the most used word in our vocabulary, Covid fatigue was becoming clear, and we were pleased that Sterling House could provide a sanctuary to our people and support them in experiencing a level of normality - within in a Covid safe environment.

As time has progressed, confidence has fluctuated. But overall, we have witnessed an active increase in employees wanting to return to the workplace for a variety of reasons; some for mental wellbeing, others to improve productivity, some unable to work productively at home, others to protect the sanctuary of their home and work / life balance - all completely valid.

Navigating the next phase

What next? We know the situation is far from over, and we can’t predict what’s to come. Our data-backed research “Office of the Future” report, demonstrated that the role of the office is far from dead.

However, business will not be without challenges. We are currently navigating our way through how to build and improve on our business communications. Our weekly All Hands meetings have continued to take place across virtual and socially distanced spaces.

Our monthly Business Forums are imperative for internal communications as they provide important updates and share our successes and key learnings together. It’s not perfect, but the process of bringing employees together is improving month on month, and employees and the leadership team are seeing the benefits in return.

Reviving company culture

And finally, all-important culture. We pride ourselves on creating a work/love balance for our people and our clients. The truth is, pre-Covid, we worked hard and played hard. Government guidelines simply don’t allow us to host events the way in which we used to, incubating our family-knit culture. It’s frustrating, but we’re continuing finding our ways around it to provide a community for Peldon Rose.

Navigating a return to the workplace

As we move into 2021, we are revisiting our return to the workplace strategy. Not only will this address the practical and logistical elements businesses should consider for workplace reoccupation, but also the emotional challenges many businesses will face. Bringing together our people, for what might be the first time in almost a year, poses difficult questions around engagement and teamwork. The individuals within an organization will want to return to a space that can offer them adequate support, as well as a positive experience. For many, it will be the start of a healing or cathartic process, and we are excited to embark on that journey with our clients.

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