Looking Forward: Returning To Work

Looking Forward – post “Furlough” and returning to work!

In the latest article in our “Looking Forward” series, Head of Employment Ami Naru looks at some of the considerations relating to staff post furlough and the way we work moving forwards.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until 30 June 2020; whether it will be extended further we do not know at this stage. With this end date in mind, employers will be starting to consider whether they have been able to continue operating with a smaller workforce, whether this is sustainable moving forwards and what size of workforce they require moving forwards. Redundancies may be a real consideration, but it is important that employers consult with their staff and explore alternatives first.

As part of a restructure and given the way your organisation has operated during lockdown, you may need to review the skill set of your workforce, as some skills may have emerged as essential to you organisation. Consideration needs to be given as to whether you have the right skill set spread across your organisation and if not, training needs may have been identified.

Lessons Learned?

Has your organisation learned any lessons from the way we have worked recently? Do you have a plan in place for your workforce if we are ever met with such circumstances again? You may need to factor in skill sets when devising such a plan. Who knew that social media and IT skills were the backbones for many organisations, without reliance upon which the outlook may have been very different for some employers?

Have you as an employer given some thought as to how you will get your workforce back into the office when lockdown has lifted? It seems likely that due to the continuing and ongoing risks with COVID-19, social distancing measures we will remain in place for a while. All employers have a duty of care with respect to health and safety of their workforce. With that in mind, have you thought about rotating those staff who work from home or in the office, changing working patterns to incorporate weekend working or early/late starts, so that there is enough desk space to practice social distancing?

Working From Home Considerations

More staff in the travel industry have worked from home than ever before, as a result of the lockdown. Without technology, this would have not been possible for many. As an organisation are you well equipped to do this or is this an area that requires review in terms of investment and up-skilling?

Has the door been opened for working from home forever? During lockdown we have all had to adapt quickly to working from home, juggling home-schooling, working in a different way or hours or dealing with caring responsibilities, but yet the work was still being done. This may have changed your view as an employer on staff working from home or indeed whom you recruit in the future. Working from home was always a temporary measure during lockdown, for those who don’t normally do it. Therefore, unless you as an employer come to some agreement with a staff member for working from home to continue, normal working arrangements will resume.

Mental Health Considerations

Finally many employers have kept a careful eye on the mental health wellbeing of their staff, ensuring there is regular engagement of staff via Zoom whether for work purposes or simply for social purposes. Have you thought about how as an employer you will maintain this post lockdown? Looking after staff wellbeing will be more important than ever: especially if redundancies, re-structures, no salary increases and the like may be on the cards and will most certainly have an impact on the motivation of your workforce.

A lot to think about how we all move forward from this pandemic!

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