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Facing the new normality: best practices for lockdown and preparation of future working conditions
Through the months of May and June companies in Switzerland have been preparing to reopen their offices. Michael Page talked to several companies to understand how the company and the employees experienced remote working, what actions they are planning in order to ease restrictions, and what their thoughts are on future working practices.
What can we learn from working conditions during the lockdown?
Home office has been on the radar of many companies for years, but without a clear plan for integration into standard working practices.
The recent lockdown has now made working from home for companies a reality.
The need to pivot from the office to the home has been a success, and highlighted how flexible businesses and their people can be:
- Companies have been able to adapt quickly and implement new ways of working without losing out on productivity
- Employees didn’t have many problems adjusting to home office and appreciated the flexibility as they were able to work when it was best for them
- Coffees, drinks and team meetings that were organized during the period boosted feelings of wellbeing and solidarity amongst the employees
Of course, there were elements of this home office experiment that were not so easily fixed.
For example, some companies noticed that their employees were not working in ergonomic environments. Unfortunately, many companies could only support their employees with this by offering furniture from the office, which was not always an ideal alternative in terms of size and design.
In general, even though remote working was very well received by most employees, the majority expressed that they want to go back to the office.
Which measures need to be taken during the easing of restrictions?
In general, companies are taking time to plan the return to work, since their employees’ home offices are ‘open’, and most things are running smoothly. Nevertheless, the return to offices generally started on a voluntary basis in May.
Each employee can choose to return to the office at this stage or not. Line Managers have been in close contact with their employees throughout the lockdown period and have been able to understand each team member’s personal situation. High risk employees will stay at home.
The government regulations imposed a maximum of five people in one room, which was difficult for open space offices. Companies continue to follow the government regulations and decide on a weekly basis how to proceed, always with their employees’ safety and wellbeing as a prime concern.
Providing gel and masks, ensuring social distancing and professional cleaning of the offices is a must. Raising awareness about this situation and constant communication to employees is equally important.
What will new normality in the working environment look like?
Companies are already being asked frequently by their employees if remote working will be offered to them once restrictions have been fully lifted. Seeing that productivity and engagement haven’t suffered due to working from home instead of the office, companies are thinking about different options. One is to offer 1-2 days per week of remote working to their employees. However, these conditions must be in line with specific regulations that are set by the Swiss government.