Moving into 2022 may seem quite nostalgic - weirdly. The Singapore government has just announced the removal of Work-From-Home (WFH) as the default arrangement and has allowed for 50% to enter back into the workplace. This arrangement is similar to what happened at the start of 2021 when Phase 3 was announced. This “new” arrangement would also mean that staggered presence in the office would be a temporary norm - again. For managers and workers, this could spell a different kind of problem, despite having gone through it before.
Integration back into the workplace means getting up earlier and making the commute to the office. While nothing terrible, could prove daunting in the early stages. Remembering the previous periods when the arrangements were seemingly volatile and uncertain due to the virus’ new variants, workers were more easily fatigued and possibly suffered from constant adjustment. A repetition in 2022 would mean that morale is likely to take a hit. Drawing from the point that a motivated worker enhances productivity, this could mean that an employee would be less likely to hit outstanding productivity rates. Unfortunately, the weary and unmotivated phase will likely be a must. This means that every worker would feel some sort of lack of motivation when they return back to the office or a deep longing for the WFH arrangement that they were so used to. However, while the presence of weariness and fatigue is confirmed, you can determine how long this phase remains.
Raising morale is difficult - but not impossible.
One of the woes of transition is the difficulty to adjust. You might think that by now many would have gotten used to the sporadic change in work adjustments, but that is not true at all! Change, especially when random is dangerously tiring at times. Moreover, many seem to forget that their colleagues and subordinates have a life outside of work. This could mean commitments to family, friends and even pets! Your colleagues would obviously be worried about how they can maintain their commitment and would require some time to make some arrangements that can eventually set their mind at ease. When you are stressed out about the things beyond the office, how can you give 100%?
What does this entail for those around?
Simply put, all one needs to be is understanding. This means being cognisant of the troubles that your colleague is facing, and learning how to communicate your grievances to them. If they fall short of their task, giving concessions can be one of the ways you show this form of understanding. While I understand that concessions can be a rarity or not possible at times, you can opt for other methods as well. As pointed out above, communicating your grievances in the same frequency as theirs would go a long way in alleviating their stress. You can offer some sort of flexibility, especially if you are in a position capable of doing so. Some companies understand this problem and have already put in place certain procedures to ensure that flexible work arranges (otherwise known as hybrid arrangements) are in place. This could mean allowing them to work at home most of the time and only need to be back in the office for important and/or confidential meetings.
Going into 2022 means you have the knowledge and experience from the previous unpredicted two years. This means realising that working, as we know it, has changed. The workforce is no longer a simple Manager to Subordinate form of hierarchy. More emphasis is on the well-being of the employees and if managers cannot get that right, it is only a matter of time before things start to slump.