Posted in News on 4th September 2020

Workplace anxiety need not be the new working norm for your team as you prepare for the reintegration stage of the COVID-19 crisis. Here’s what you can do to kill it …

The COVID-19 lockdown is easing and businesses are looking at how to reintegrate their people into the workplace. Whatever choices businesses make, supporting their people to co-create their new working norms is key. However, with the only thing guaranteed for a while being continuing uncertainty, how can you kill the anxiety surrounding COVID-19?

Well, the first step is to create a welcoming post-COVID-19 environment.


You can create a welcoming post-COVID-19 environment

OK, so before I get to the nitty-gritty of this, let’s take a quick look at a model for crisis management, after all, who doesn’t love a good model?

When a crisis happens, it can be broken down into three distinct stages: response stage; reintegration stage; restoration stage. I won’t go into too much detail here. If you wish to learn more, read this excellent Forbes article by. Scott Cornwell.

We are now in the reintegration stage. This requires your leadership team to move away from the directive style of leadership that was needed at the response stage to this crisis, to a more collaborative style. They need to come together to work out how to create a welcoming environment in which the wider team can work out the new ways of working.

So, how do you go about creating a welcoming post-COVID-19 environment?

Forget the how for a minute, let’s start with the ‘why?’.

Creating a welcoming environment is vital to your business’s post-COVID-19 recovery plan because the best way to influence how something ends is to set it up to end the way you intend.

Your employees have been going through a period of uncertainty. Whether or not they are returning from furlough, expecting to continue work from home, or to come back into the workplace, they are adapting to changes.

Work-life balance will now look different to them. Many will be discovering that they can work from home just as well, if not better than, from work. Others may be discovering that working from home is not for them. Some will have been shielding, or have family members who need shielding. Many will feel anxious about returning to work.

How can you welcome them all back to a new normal where nobody doubts your support and everybody commits to giving their best? Well, asking them how they are and what they need, and listening to their responses, is the place to start. The best way to do this is with a staff wellbeing survey.

You can carry out a staff wellbeing survey to capture a picture of how your staff are feeling

Here’s an extract from the executive summary of one such survey. The business ended up booking a leadership retreat at the ‘safe space’ which is elbowroom escape. Whilst here, they will be reviewing the survey’s recommendations and planning how to support their wider teams to reintegrate and co-create their visions of the new normal.

“The team missed being physically in a space with colleagues. They found that when you’re in a space with people you can use your energy in a more focused way. It’s really important to have ‘safe spaces’ where people can take their first steps back into shared spaces.

Once the survey is complete, you need to think about how to physically go about getting your workplace ready for the return of your people.

You can borrow from proven practical tools to get your workplace ready for the return of your people

There are many practical tools to help, including these from Deloitte. They’re a good starting point but do please implement according to your specific needs. We did.

“One of the big advantages of Elbowroom Escape is the space, there is lots of it. All the cabins are isolated so there are not shared corridors as you might have in a hotel.

Irish Tech News, July 2020

Yup, as Jillian Godsil picked up in her recent article in Irish Tech News, there’s no yellow and black tape here, just hand sanitizer and hospital-grade hygiene. And that’s a conscious choice made by me with intentional calmness during the response stage of this crisis.

Having created a welcoming space, what can you do next to minimise workplace anxiety? A wise choice would be to put in place or reinforce resilience-building procedures, practices and policies.

You can bake resilience into your post-COVID-19 culture

Here’s the jump off point to a four part series about building a resilient culture. Although written pre-pandemic, it remains relevant. To summarise, it’s about supporting your people to harness physical, thinking, doing and relating energy.

This requires looking at lifestyle elements, including diet, exercise, sleep and coping mechanisms for handling stress. It also involves supporting them to review their working styles, including time and screen time management, team communication skills and other elements impacting work efficiencies.

Before I sign off, let me share with my go-to mantra throughout this pandemic.

“Without uncertainty, there is no opportunity…”

A theme running true throughout my time on this planet is that my most rewarding opportunities have evolved from places of uncertainty. Even setting up the elbowroom escape evolved from such a place.

And here I am, a former corporate go-getter, now mistress of my own destiny, providing a welcoming space for corporate clients to escape to, co-create and deliver corporate wellbeing strategies.

I’m living the good life – in spite of COVID-19, and my team know how to shine the way for you too. Our business guests always leave here wanting more. More bathing in our miles of woodland and mountains; more locally sourced, freshly cooked food; more success for the companies they work for.

We’re killing COVID-19 anxiety. With bookable extras to your corporate retreat including yoga classes and other COVID-19 compliant relaxing techniques, we can help you to too.

Want to give your team the elbowroom to escape from COVID-19 anxiety and decide what they want the new working norm to look and feel like?


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