A Return To The Office: Why FM Teams Need Effective Communication Now More Than Ever

A return to the office: why FM teams need effective communication now more than everWritten by Ross McCaw, CEO at OurPeople

As Boris Johnson and his government encourage the public to return to more conventional work schedules and environments, it’s especially important that Facilities Management teams work hard to ensure the safety and cleanliness of office buildings.

However, the pressure of a workforce consisting of contractors, deskless and remote employees makes effective communication with, and within, facilities management teams tricky. This is particularly worrying given how crucial it currently is to ensure all staff have correct and relevant information which helps reduce unnecessary risk.

As businesses start to commence their office re-entry plans, it’s fundamental that this return is safe, not only for staff, but also for public protection against the threat of a potential second wave of COVID-19. This is where it’s vital for facilities managers to ensure they have an adaptable workplace which boasts strong and effective communication to all employees, whether they’re deskless or remote.

Almost five in six employees are continuing to work from home, despite government guidance. With a minimal amount of staff returning to workplaces across the UK, the integration of both communication systems and regular in-person meetings and catch-ups is important to transfer key information, updates and documents, and to ensure any employee concerns around health and safety can be resolved swiftly and efficiently.

The UK is also making its way towards a new blended work model which includes a mix of employees in office, at home and deskless working. While this flexibility can seem liberating, it can also have workers feeling more distant due to a lack of physical connection. To stop this from hindering productivity, regular meetings (safely distanced and with the correct measures in place) in the office with all employees are crucial. These meetings will also ensure workers have correct and up-to-date information about what protocols have been put in place, and how the business and buildings are running to protect staff.

One-to-one feedback sessions are also important, ensuring workers are pleased and engaged with the key information being pushed out, and that they are able to voice their, maybe more personal, concerns in a private environment. They will also enable Facilities Managers to check up on how staff are doing and feeling about their return to work, and whether any additional measures need to be put in place, listening to both their feedback and the constantly updated government advice.

The ease for managers to act on relevant suggestions or concerns can, in turn, have a great effect on staff, not only ensuring they feel safe and protected from the virus, but also that they have a sense of belonging and worth in the workplace. Ensuring employees are happy and engaged can really make a difference to their performance. Alongside this, increased positive engagement with staff will also allow them to feel more protected, and less anxious, about returning to work, encouraging more back into the office.

Facilities Managers should keep consistent, instant and transparent connections with all employees regarding their response to the pandemic, and how they are working against the ongoing threat.

Communication platforms should be implemented to assist in the safe return to work, so that staff have access to the right people and information instantly, when they need it. This can be a great way for Facilities Managers to ensure they are constantly informing staff, outside of regularly scheduled meetings, on the safety measures they have put in place, and any changes required by updated government guidance.

Implementing measures and updating the workplace for an effective response to COVID-19 is not enough; Facilities Managers must take these extra steps to actively engage staff, ensuring there is transparency in the way the business is run, and that staff are aware of the measures put in place to protect them, so they can act upon important information to create an ultimately safer environment for all involved.

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