Being at work today looks very different than it did two years ago. It also looks very different company to company and employee to employee.
But as the hypothetical return-to-work klaxons sound and the government renews its call for people to get back to the office, how can employers ensure they create a welcoming environment for employees to return to?
It all starts by creating and maintaining trust in the workplace.
WFH vs back to the office
Much has been written about working from home and how effective some believe it to be.
In 2020, employees were trusted to manage their own time, workflow and responsibilities as they were left to their own devices to work from home.
But fast forward two years and the whole WFH vs return-to-the-office debate has split opinion.
Just recently we saw the minister for government efficiency, Jacob Rees-Mogg, give civil servants a return-to-work nudge by leaving handwritten messages on empty desks stating: “Sorry you were out when I visited. I look forward to seeing you in the office very soon.”
While online marketplace Airbnb has taken a very different approach after it introduced a flexible working policy where employees can work from anywhere – and they can do so indefinitely.
Trust in the workplace
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: trust is fundamental in the workplace.
Along with improving mood, satisfaction and psychological safety at work, trust can also increase retention rates and employee engagement.
However, according to a recent poll, the share of remote workers who trust their employer to get the return to work right, hit the lowest point in 12 months with many expressing their concern over how the move back to office life would play out.
So, as an employer, how can you create trust in the workplace and do so in a post-pandemic world?
Tips on how to create trust in the workplace
1. Focus on deliverables rather than time
The working world has changed. Employees have found their own working groove. For some, the AM is when they are most efficient. While for others, productivity comes to them after their second (or third) cup of coffee.
Therefore, flexibility is key. And it works both sides. What do you need from your employees? And what do they need from you? Do you need someone to be sitting at their desk 9-to-5? Or do you need someone to write three articles by 5pm? Flexible work schedules are no longer nice to have – they are a given.
At WPG, we welcome flexibility for our team with work around core hours.
So really consider what and how to get the best out of your employees so that you can trust them – and they can trust you.
2. Take your learnings further
It’s been a long two years. And in that time, we’ve learnt so much.
For example, tech tools and cloud-based services have changed the game when it comes to remote working. And the same could be said for video calling capabilities which are more dynamic than ever before.
We’ve also seen colleagues manage their own time schedules and workload for the past 700 odd days. So instead of automatically taking back autonomy, figure out what has worked for people and what hasn’t.
Here at WPG, we primarily utilise Microsoft Teams and have welcomed new features, such as breakout rooms, for the work we do.
3. Make your new ways of working sustainable
We are no longer in crisis mode. So whatever new ways of working you put in place, it has to be sustainable. One of the best ways to do this is through the power of communication. Talk to your friends, colleagues, and peers to find out what is it that they want from their work life.
Is hybrid working manageable for your business? Would a trial working period be good? Or has it become apparent that working from home for the foreseeable is best for your team and business?
For example, at WPG, we’ve maintained an open and transparent line of communication, in tandem with the first tip, to allow our employees to work in ways they work best.
Communicating with your colleagues to find out what they need from you and what you need from them will help you create a respected and trusted workplace. It’s the key to everything.
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