So, have you returned to work yet?
The Government’s advice is a little mixed to say the least – lifting the order that we should all work at home, if possible, but saying a return to work should be gradual.
But it is still clear that, at the moment, work is beginning to return to the workplace.
For many employees this is a welcome move – but for many others it is something which is creating concern and anxiety.
A recent survey by Accenture showed that as many as 24 per cent of City workers would prefer to continue to work from home.
And 39 per cent said they didn’t mind losing out on pay if it meant that they could continue to work remotely.
There are a number of worries for employees which lie behind these figures. They include:
- Will I be safe?
After 18 months of limited interaction with other people the thought of returning to a crowded office can be worrying. Your employer has a duty to look after your health and safety and that includes protecting you from the Covid-19 virus. If you have concerns, talk to your employer about the measures they are taking – such as spacing out desks, extra sanitising stations, making sure there is adequate ventilation, different shift patterns and such like so that they can address them.
Try to arrange a one-to-one with your line manager to talk through your concerns and any special needs you might have.
- Will I have to use public transport to travel to work?
This is a huge concern for many workers. We have become used to staying at home and the thought of sharing a packed train carriage with hundreds of others is naturally stressful.
Many travel operators are continuing to insist that passengers wear masks and are maintaining social distancing. But there are other things you can do to ensure the daily commute is less stressful, including carrying your own hand sanitiser and using it frequently, wearing a mask yourself whatever the operator’s policy and trying to change travel times so that you can use less busy services.
It’s also worth talking to your managers to make sure you are not being asked to make unnecessary business journeys – but continuing to use video conferencing where it represents a realistic alternative.
- Can I adopt a hybrid working model?
Hybrid working – part home-based and part in the office – has become a hot topic of conversation since the pandemic started to ease in this country.
Employers should now have homeworking policies in place, having had to deal with the pandemic for the last 18 months or so. This being the case, you should be able to make either a formal or informal request to continue working from home, at least part of the time.
The important thing here is communication. Talk to your managers about how such a system would work for both you and them and have an open conversation around flexible working. If you can demonstrate that your job can be done flexibly then you stand a good chance of your employer being happy to give it a try.
- Will my career suffer if I work from home?
If you do continue to work remotely, what are the likely consequences for your career. Sometimes out of sight can be out of mind, and not being in the boss’s eyeline can mean you fall off their radar.
But on the other hand you should not be penalised if you and your employer agree that you should continue to work remotely. It’s worth making sure there is an arrangement in place which gives you regular contact with your managers so that you can get feedback and appraisals and also benefit from any career development initiatives your company might have.
- Will my job be safe?
With the end of the furlough scheme coming next month, there are fears that unemployment could rise and job security plummet. There is no magic solution here, only time will tell what happens to the economy. But talking to your managers about the future of the company, your role and that of your colleagues is a good way of setting your mind at rest and at least getting a feel for what the future might hold.
At the same time, it’s always worth making sure your CV is up to date and that you keep your eyes open for any possible opportunities that might be around.
If you need any help with any of these issues, use the contact button on this page and we’ll be delighted to offer you a free consultation.