I'm delighted to welcome some of the team back to the office this week, after the majority of the year has been spent working remotely.
It really hasn't been the same without them - or meeting our clients face-to-face come to that!
I personally can't wait to get back to more interaction in person, although Microsoft Teams has been useful, it's just not the same.
When I started to plan the team's return, I found it important to engage with staff early on about making the necessary arrangements, in a way that they felt comfortable with.
As a small business, it can be difficult to accommodate differing staff requirements and requests while still meeting the needs of the business. Flexibility has to be shown with staff members coming back and if they request a future hybrid approach, then this will need to be considered.
Continuing to follow government guidance as we fully unlock will not only help to keep workers safe, it will reassure staff and customers that businesses are operating ethically within the law and that people are legally protected.
I've also been chatting to the Chartered Management Institute about my experience as a small business employer, so if you fancy a read of the article, here's the link https://www.managers.org.uk/knowledge-and-insights/article/return-to-work-the-hows-the-dos-and-the-donts/
When employees do not want to return to the workplace
As I've already experienced in my small business, some members of staff, for various reasons, are reluctant to return to the office.
I think it's key to communicate early on about the reasons for this and to consider each person's needs individually. Employers will need to determine why the employee is reluctant to return, and once this has been established, the right kind of conversation can then be had with them.
Good communication, as ever is key, with employers keeping people's specific circumstances in mind, as well as adhering to the latest Government guidance and the needs of the business.
Working from home
The guidance is still that staff should work from home wherever possible.
Where this is not possible, measures should be implemented in the workplace to keep staff safe and to reduce the spread of the virus.
Employers are being encouraged to implement in-house testing so that asymptomatic cases of coronavirus can be detected. It's important to communicate these measures to anyone feeling nervous about returning to the workplace. It may also be reassuring to share the company's Covid-19 risk assessment and testing policy.
Instead of forcing staff to return to the workplace, I believe employers should instead consult with staff about a return date, giving plenty of advance notice and the opportunity to discuss any concerns they may have.
Any issues may well be resolved by explaining the measures being taken to ensure that the workplace is Covid-secure. These could include social distancing measures or on-site testing.
Giltinan and Kennedy works in partnership with many businesses, charities and individuals across West Sussex and beyond. Please feel free to get in contact with us for an informal chat about your business finances on 01403 337490 or learn more at https://www.giltinan-kennedy.co.uk/services/tax-advisers