Working from home has been vital in slowing the spread of coronavirus, but many businesses are now looking forward to re-entering their office space and returning to as high a level of “business as usual” as they can in a time of global crisis.

Connectivity issues, isolation from our colleagues and an inability to clearly separate our home and work life has made remote working a necessary but less than ideal reality for many of us over the past few weeks. Indeed, remote workforces are already beginning to report that they miss the structure and community of the office, with issues such as health and wellbeing coming to the fore during COVID-19.

As a result, when we do return to work, employers should foster workplaces that offer the best of both worlds, from optimal connectivity and elements that promote wellbeing to design that encourages a sense of community.

There’s no question that COVID-19 has provoked a change in the way we work, as well as how we will view and use “the office” in the long term. What this prolonged period of working remotely so far has taught us is that, while we can work from home, we are unlikely however to ever give up the office completely.

As many nations cautiously make their way toward relaxing Covid-19 lockdowns, many of us are starting to envision a time when we can return to the office. Yet, in the absence of a vaccine, aspects of modern workplaces will have to change if employees are to safely return to their desks. 

Experts suggest this could involve a combination of short-term fixes aimed at boosting worker confidence, reducing the number of staff in the office at any one time, and longer-term design upgrades and modifications that put hygiene at the heart of workplace planning

In the short-term, it seems likely that many of us will remain working from home even after government orders to do so are lifted. Dual workplaces, with a staggered workforce may become standard, with smaller groups coming in on alternate days and shifts that avoid rush-hour traffic peaks. 

Companies should be subsidising home offices, given the home is now considered a legitimate workspace. This is something that could potentially decrease concerns about health impacts from ergonomically inadequate set-ups. At Ergonomicsdirect, we can help by assessing and improving the ergonomic setup of home workspaces with our great range of versatile ergonomic products.

Employee wellbeing has been in the spotlight for a while, but with the current crisis, it is important that employers recognise the various challenges faced by their employees. Employers need to consider how to best adapt working practices in order to accommodate a diverse range of employee circumstances. 

Working from home will ultimately become a supplement to, rather than a substitute for, the office. While remote work can provide flexibility for employees, office work allows for collaboration, connection and culture—essential ingredients for enterprise growth, risk management and control, and employee development. 

Wishing everyone a happy festive season, stay safe out there and let’s hope 2021 will be a prosperous and successful year. Happy holidays from all of us @ergonomicsdirect.

Yours in Ergonomics

Wendy

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