Don't plan for a full house, Resilience First warns firms

With its world-leading vaccination programme in full swing, the UK is beginning to gear up for the next big return to work. As they address the options in the final weeks of the current country-wide lockdown, business group Resilience First is warning office-based firms not to plan for full occupancy.

Robert Hall, executive director of Resilience First, said people must realise that any return to the office will see a mix of days of off-site and on-site working, and that there is a difficult balance to be struck.

“Getting the balance right will depend on employee roles and employer expectations. Some will see reduced office capacity with HSBC announcing it will vacate 40% of its office space in the coming years, for example.”

In its guide to flexible working, published today, Resilience First looks at the new hybrid approach to office working and its potential implications from the four perspectives of: people, places, processes and tools.

Chairman of Resilience First, Simon Collins, said there is a widespread realisation that traditional office working will not be the same as we emerge from the pandemic.

“Offices cannot expect to have full occupancy as employees are no longer expected to be physically present and many have grown accustomed to, and value, home working,” he explained. “Yet, the office environment has many advantages both for companies trying to sustain team building and those who appreciate working closely for comradeship and creativity.”

Russell-Cooke, partner and health and safety specialist Kizzy Augustin said companies should consider both the emotional and physical well-being of staff during this opportunity for recalibration. “Now that we know the roadmap for the return to ‘normality,’ employers need to consider what the new normal will look like for those based in offices,” he said. “Some employees have found home working has given them a new work-life balance they want to keep but others have felt isolated and poorly managed or have been working in inadequate conditions. It is vital that employers consider the physical and mental health of their workforce when reviewing their plans for a return to work and whether a hybrid approach of both office and home/remote working is the best approach for their business. They have a duty to do so. This report is an important run-down of all the issues that need to be taken into account and we welcome an open discussion as we move into a new working mode.”

The speed and extent of the return to offices and cities was addressed by the Prime Minister last week when he said (at a virtual Network Rail conference) that commuting would be back in a few “short months” and that the current WFH approach was a "temporary thing".

We’ll be examining the ‘new normal’ in-depth in the next issue of CIR Magazine, out later this month. Click here to receive the digital edition.

Image courtesy Sungard

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