After almost a year of working from home, employees are slowly returning to offices, although in a limited number. However, the workforce productivity of the company is in jeopardy because of the prevailing hybrid system of workforce of both remote and on-campus employees and the pandemic fatigue. Therefore, companies are compelled to take steps to curb the adverse effects of this new workplace phenomenon.
Understanding Pandemic Fatigue
Pandemic fatigue means to let the guard against the COVID pandemic loose. This includes not listening to instructions for COVID-appropriate behavior, heightened irritability, reduced focus and motivation and the increased misconception of low vulnerability to COVID. Irregular sleep patterns and withdrawal from social interactions are reflections of pandemic fatigue. Tackling pandemic fatigue has a direct effect on the productivity of employees.
Assure Employees of Safety Measures implemented
If pandemic fatigue does not affect returning employees, reentry anxiety will. Employees will have concerns about their health and safety while returning to the workplace. Companies can compare and contrast the safety standards of multiple companies to arrive at the perfect sanitation and safety protocol. The safety measures adopted by the company have to be communicated with the employees to clear fears and concerns about the safety of working in an office space.
Even though workers like to come back to offices, a majority prefer to continue working remotely for at least three days a week. This is because the flexible schedule available while working from home has applied to the employees.
The best option for companies to get a majority of the employees back while letting them work from home is to bring the workers back in phases or shifts so that employees do not feel concerned about their health due to the overcrowding in the office spaces. Companies could mandate a fixed number of days an employee has to come to the office or resort to methods like hot desking.
Set realistic expectations
It is unrealistic to start the employee monitoring software started from day one, expecting the returning employees to adjust to the new working environment. Instead, companies should let them find their ways of interaction. Employees are less prone to burnout and pandemic fatigue if they feel the company cares for them.
Use the right tools
The pandemic has stalled face-to-face interaction as we know it. However, communication and interaction are still vital for the workplace. Therefore, companies should switch to new technologies and applications, like Zoom for video meetings and Slack for file sharing and internal communication, that work well with the hybrid workforce.
All these initiatives will be effective only if companies encourage communication. The standards and expectations from the employees have to be communicated, and time has to be given for them to understand and internalize them.