In the second of our return to workplace series, we're going to cover the psychological effects that working from home during the pandemic has caused and what office safety procedure FMs can introduce to encourage teams to return to the office.
What is psychological safety?
Psychological safety in the workplace allows employees to express themselves, ask questions, make their opinions heard and share ideas without fear of being ridiculed or treated negatively.
Psychological safety impacts organisational culture; employees who feel safe to express themselves are more likely to belong to a good culture, whereas the opposite is usually connected to a negative culture.
What are the psychological effects of Covid-19?
The impact of Covid-19 upon the world has been immense; with both a physical and phycological effect on many people. We believe there are three key areas that employees are experiencing.
While some people have gotten through the past twelve months relatively unscathed, many people have experienced difficulties with their mental health. In Wales, GPs have seen antidepressant prescriptions increase by over 115,000 than the previous year. In Scotland, the Scottish Liberal Democrats have asked for a declaration that the country is facing a mental health crisis, heightened by the pandemic.
More people are experiencing symptoms relating to anxiety and depression, while healthcare workers are experiencing symptoms associated with PTSD. This increase has been attributed to the pandemic; where feelings of hopelessness and fear have been triggered by quarantines, media reports and the loss of loved ones.
A survey conducted by the Financial Times illustrates just how stressed people have become during the pandemic. Many people in the UK have become stressed thanks to money troubles; needing to self isolate, being placed on furlough and business closures all create a financial strain.
Being placed on furlough comes with a reduction in wages but also a worry about the future. It's expected that 2.6 million people will be unemployed by the middle of the year, and with the job market still quite slow, there is a real fear that people could lose their jobs.
Although some employers in the UK have pledged support in the form of wellbeing sessions, meditation apps and therapy, a survey by the Financial Times indicated that employers have not been quick to understand the limitations and pressures that their teams are facing at the moment. Additional strains for employees include home-schooling, becoming unwell, suffering with mental health difficulties, poor working conditions at home and more.
Thanks in part to the financial pressures that companies are experiencing at the moment, projects and workloads have stayed the same or increased for many, almost with a thought for continuing as normal. This, combined with a third lockdown, has led to employees unable to cope or focus on tasks as well as they had done pre-pandemic.
Office Safety Procedures to Return To Workplace
How can Facilities Managers support employees?
Although many employees will welcome the normalcy of returning to the office, the threat of Covid-19 is still in the forefront of employees minds. As such, it is important to make the office return as welcoming and calm as possible.
1. Get rid of screens and tape
We wrote about this topic earlier this week, but we can't say it enough: screens, tape and signs will not create a welcoming and calm environment for employees. Part of your office safety procedure for the return must include the removal of tape and screens; fines have been issued to companies despite them using this method.
A visitor management system which includes desk booking, pre registration and internal wayfinding will have a much better impact with employees, as well as improving efficiencies in your department.
2. Be flexible
Allowing employees to work on their own terms and visit the office when it benefits them will not only have a positive impact on their health, but will have keep Covid contamination to a minimum. Staggered start and end times will also have the same impact; the key is to ensure you don't have masses of employees trying to enter and exit the building at the same time.
Consider hybrid working as part of an overall office safety procedure; hybrid working has been a topic of conversation for the past year and that solution could work for your business. Check out our guide to hybrid working here.
3. Communicate with your employees
During this time of anxiety, communication from leadership will help employees to feel safe upon their return to work. Acknowledging anxieties and finding out what parts of the return employees feel most worried about will allow FMs to put in actions to combat those worries.
Facilities Managers should work closely with HR and Internal Communications teams to make sure that employees are kept up to date with ongoing changes. Use different methods to communicate; email, intranet or video will help your message get to more people.
Consider running a regular video call session where people can ask you questions or make suggestions to improve the facilities in the office during Covid-19. Allowing people to share their thoughts will help them to feel heard. In addition, a regular session gives people a place to have their worries responded to.
Key to Effective Office Safety Procedures: Let Vgreet improve psychological safety.
Vgreet simplifies and automates the office safety procedures to encourage employees back to the workplace. It takes care of the entire visitor management process, leaving reception staff to focus on providing visitors with a warm welcome. Vgreet never forgets a process; employees will receive the same secure and safe experience every time they visit your office.
Touchless visitor check-in kiosk, a digital receptionist help service, Microsoft room booking integrations and much more, Vgreet visitor management system provide an end-to-end visitor management solution for your organisation.