As the awareness of Psychological Safety in the Workplace gains momentum it’s important to considerthe impact of returning to the office, now that some regions are preparing to invite employees back into the workplace.
For a great introduction into the topic of Psychological Safety in the Workplace, check out this interesting blog post from Axiom Communications, who have a team of experts on hand with over 25 years of real world demonstrable experience.
Over the last 12 months we have all, around the globe, had to deal with unprecedented change both in and out of the workplace. But now, just as we have adjusted to the Covid-19 world and found our own rhythm and routine, we are faced with further turmoil and transformation as we prepare to venture back to the workplace. But how will this impact our Psychological Safety? What are the risk and how will we navigate them?
Psychological risks of returning to the office
Part of the challenge we face is that, gloriously, everyone is different. That’s what makes life and interaction with colleagues interesting! But conversely this poses the biggest risk, what is right for one person is a cause of anxiety for another. While some of us may be waiting excitedly for the green light to get back into the workplace, others are dreading the day. There is no right or wrong, just differences in preference and perceived risk. Social media more often than not, segregates and divides those with conflicting views. Sadly ‘Vive la différence’ all too often gives way to ‘Vilify the difference’ widening the divide even further in the digital world. Organisations need to bridge the divide and promote tolerance and acceptance of differing views.
Vaccination policy, mask wearing, new Covid strains, social distancing and sanitizing the workplace are all valid concerns that will result in differences of opinion and may elicit strong convictions forcibly voiced.
Furthermore, for some working from home has provided an opportunity for greater autonomy over how and when tasks are performed. It’s been easier to work around dependants, fitness regimes and other lifestyle choices and interests. Avoiding public transport and working in the comfort and safety over their own home has allowed many to flourish and be more creative and innovative in their work leading to greater productivity.
How organisations approach opening up the workplace and getting team members back on site is critical to both psychological safety and maintaining levels of productivity we have all fought so hard to achieve over the last year. Strategies and policies need to recognise and respect the spectrum of varied opinion on sensitive aspects of the topic and foster a culture of kindness and diversity whilst adhering to regional legislation and governmental advice.
Navigating the risk of returning to the office
Two-way communication is essential to navigating this risk. Understanding the specific concerns across the workplace and even being open to suggested solutions and approaches helps both employees and the employer. Employees know they have a voice and an element of control, essential in psychological safety and wellbeing. Employers have a greater understanding of concerns in the workforce and can receive valuable input, by way of workable solutions to implement as part of their longer-term strategy at a pace that is right for all, retaining a degree of flexibility where feasible.
To understand more about how Engage can help with your two-way employee communication or psychological safety in the workplace, email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.