Loch Associates Group are currently working hard to help clients prepare their workforces for returning to the workplace post Covid-19. Our recent work with SIP Speciality Oils and Fluids provides an interesting insight into the most successful methods to gauge staff attitudes towards the future of the workplace, hybrid working and a shift back to the office.
The benefits of consulting with staff are numerous – not only does it provide employers with valuable information, allowing you to make an informed decision on plans for returning to work but it also creates a culture where staff feel their input is appreciated and respected.
In the SIP case study, we outline the work undertaken as well as the key insights that were found.
The Current Position:
While the government guidance remains that staff who can reasonably work from home should do, this is due to change with the lifting of restrictions on 21st June 2021. It’s best to plan ahead for this now.
The government and Acas both recommend employers should consult with staff regarding working arrangements and making the workplace safe for return.
SIP – The Background:
SIP Speciality Oils and Fluids office is based in London, and they have been working with customers in Europe and the wider African and Middle Eastern markets for many years, frequently travelling the globe to meet their customers’ needs. The pandemic forced them to work differently and for the last 14 months every member of the team has been working from home successfully.
They were keen to understand what this operational change might mean for the future. Despite the ongoing uncertainty, what they were clear on was that the engagement, commitment, and involvement of their entire team would be vital to sustaining their impressive success.
They wanted to understand:
- How working from home for over a year has impacted their people
- Their view about any potential return to working from the office or resuming business travel
- Suggestions for how to make the workplace feel safe
- Personal preference for office working, hybrid working or working from home
In order to underline the open and genuine nature of seeking their team’s views and to give staff the opportunity to talk freely, they asked HR Advise Me, part of the Loch Associates Group, to help.
What we Did:
The HR Advise Me team developed a structure for the survey based on targeted open questions that would give staff the best opportunity to share full and frank views.
Every member of the team took part in personal conversations with our HR Consultants who were able to uncover their true thoughts and feelings about their working lives during the pandemic, as well as their views and hopes for work-life once restrictions are lifted.
These conversations lasted 30 to 40 minutes on average and the staff gave feedback that they had actually enjoyed the calls too.
The output of the activity has been hugely beneficial to SIP who are invested in maintaining the engagement, motivation, and productivity of their team.
Information from the consultations was effectively summarised to provide clarity about the majority view, while at the same time highlighting differences so that everyone’s contribution was represented.
What did we Learn?
- How wellbeing had been impacted by working from home for over a year
- Specific concerns were highlighted about pre-Covid ways of working which would not meet new post-Covid social distancing guidelines and suggestions to make these safer
- Adjustments suggested to allow for safer travel to and from the office
- Certain things had worked well online, and employees wanted to continue with some online work
- A valuable insight was given into which activities staff thought had more benefit when they were conducted face to face
- Personal preferences for future working arrangements were identified and their rationale for why office working, hybrid working, or working from home benefited them and SIP
This insight has been greatly appreciated by SIP who are now working with the HR Consultants to use this information to build plans in the knowledge that future changes will be incorporated with real employee input.
Feedback from Steve Spencer, Managing Director at SIP:
‘In order to prepare for a return to office working, the Board of SIP needed to understand the thoughts and concerns members of staff had in doing so, which would help with our planning going forward. We felt the best way to progress and achieve a greater degree of openness was to introduce some independence to the process vs. interviews being conducted by senior management.
We approached HR Advise Me to put together a questionnaire and carry out a survey on our behalf with anonymity being a key feature for the respondents. This was carried out by the HR Consultants Sandra and Deborah who did an excellent job of constructing the questions in a way that would achieve open and unambiguous answers. The feedback was exactly what we needed in order to consider what is required for not only a safe return to the office environment, but what is needed to ensure our team is satisfied and motivated by any new working arrangements that are adopted. The Board are very happy with the results!’
Get in touch:
If you are interested in conducting a consultation with staff regarding working arrangements and making the workplace safe for a return to work post Covid, our team of expert HR Consultants can help. Get in touch with us today.