Samantha Palmer Payl8r (1)

With 64% of businesses reportedly planning to return to the workplace in 2021, it is important that business owners think about how they can best support the wellbeing of their staff during the process. For many, the switch to remote working carried both positives and negatives. Craig Bulow founder of Corporate Away Days shares his advice on easing staff back into the workplace and helping them reconnect after lockdown.

Encouraging socialisation

Feeling less connected with colleagues was cited as one of the biggest challenges for remote workers throughout the pandemic. While employees will likely be keen to reconnect and socialise at work, it cannot be expected that relationships between staff will immediately return to normal. A year apart can impact relationships in unpredictable ways. Even where the experience is positive, the increase in personal conversation prompted by a return to in-person work could affect productivity.

One way of helping ease the transition would be to plan informal social events to give people an opportunity to catch up and reconnect on a personal level before returning to the office and working together.

Given the ongoing situation, it is important to be mindful of safety. An outdoor event, such as a company barbeque or picnic, will reduce the chances of infection and allow for easier, more natural social distancing.

Connecting with nature

One benefit of working from home for many people has been the ability to reconnect with nature. Whether taking walks, playing with pets, taking breaks in the garden or being surrounded by houseplants ─ working from home seems to provide more opportunity for people to connect with nature.

This biophilia, or ‘love of life’, is a real phenomenon that has measurable benefits to wellbeing. In fact, a working environment that includes natural elements has been found to increase employee wellbeing by around 15%, yet many employees work in environments with no natural greenery or natural light.

One way employers can support their employees’ mental health and wellbeing is by making sure that their office space has plenty natural light and greenery. Adding some plants to the office or installing a skylight may cut into your budget, but the positive effects can be significant and help ease the transition back into the office.

Some employers and workplace managers are taking this one step further by installing vertical garden spaces into the office. These lush green spaces provide an immediate connection with nature as well as potentially providing a source of healthy vegetables and herbs for staff lunches.

Away days

A great way of combining socialisation with connection to nature is through corporate away days. This doesn’t mean simply transferring work to a different location or under a different guise. Instead, it should be an opportunity to do something fun together as a team in a natural outdoor space.

Employers could arrange a trip to a forest to learn about different plants and animals or find a meditation retreat in a natural setting. Staff could even help out at a sanctuary together or learn how to tend to a colony of bees.

Whatever employers decide to do, it can be helpful to do it in a natural outdoor setting and have a social element that will aid teambuilding. This helps to keep people socially distanced where necessary, improve working relationships, reconnect staff with each other and with nature, and demonstrates that business leaders are invested in your employees and their wellbeing.

Key takeaways

  • As restrictions ease and businesses begin returning their staff to the workplace after remote working, it is natural that some may feel anxious about the transition.
  • Employers and business leaders can ease the stress of returning to the workplace by encouraging staff to socialise, introducing elements of nature to the workplace, and arranging away days where staff can reconnect.
  • You kind find out more about away days and how they can benefit your workforce, by visiting http://www.corporate-away-days.co.uk/

For more information and advice on returning to work as lockdown restrictions life, head over to https://www.weareumi.co.uk/webapp/hot-topics/returning-to-work

Ashleigh Smith
Article by Ashleigh Smith
Share Article
Feedback