As Indian businesses begin their return to the office, Abi Roni Mattom, Country Director, India, shares how organizations can factor health and wellbeing into their return to workplace strategies.
Practically all Indian lives have been touched, directly or indirectly, by the virus.
A recent study by Deloitte ranked India highest among 18 countries in terms of anxiety during the second wave of the pandemic. It’s a complex picture with considerable ramifications for employers as people begin returning to the office.
“Many employees feel like they’re now different people to those who inhabited the workplace in the pre-pandemic world,” suggests Abi Roni Mattom, Country Lead for India at Unispace. “Everyone is still dealing with their anxieties, stress and traumas, and the question for their employers is how they can make returning to work a positive step on the road to better wellbeing.”
The need for human connection
When Apple CEO, Tim Cook announced that he wanted all employees to return to the office, he noted that “Video conference calling has narrowed the distance between us, that’s for sure, but there are things it simply cannot replicate.”
This rings particularly true of India’s community-centric culture.
“The importance of community within Indian society cannot be overstated,” explains Abi. “Employees seek to belong to something bigger than themselves, and this communal aspect of work is something that businesses have struggled to address during our time away from the office.”
Prioritising wellbeing during the return to the office
By eliminating the pains and hassles of returning to work and accentuating the opportunities it creates, organizations can empower employees to reconnect with the physical workplace in the way that best supports their wellbeing.
- Vaccination drives. Consider giving employees a day off to recover as an incentive to take up the vaccine and proactively communicate when staff are eligible for their vaccine in accordance with professional medical advice.
- Staggered work hours. Employees may be concerned about travelling to work on public transport during peak hours. Encourage staggered working hours to avoid rush hour and get to know your team and their personal circumstances to help with planning.
- In-office protocols. Employees may also be concerned about how their peers will behave once back in the office. Create clear protocols around social distancing and mask-wearing and be proactive in communicating and enforcing these.
- Wellbeing. For staff still struggling with the psychological impact of Covid-19, consider providing access to additional support systems such as BetterHelp - an online portal that provides direct access to wellbeing services.
- Safe collaboration. The office plays a key role in bringing teams together to support wellbeing. Consider adapting the office to enabling hybrid work, with a focus on safe collaboration and wellbeing.
- Landlord initiatives. Your building owner or manager will have COVID safe measures and initiatives in place. Ensure your business and your employees are not only following these guidelines but taking advantage of any benefits as well.
Empowerment is the key to better wellbeing. Unispace’s framework for post-covid office design, The Propeller Workplace, combines elements of wellness, community and innovation to allow employees to thrive in a post-pandemic world.
“After so many months of working in isolation, the return to the office has the potential to provide a genuine boost to employee wellbeing,” says Abi. “The key is for organizations to embrace hybrid working. Rush-hour commutes can be avoided, focus work doesn’t need to be carried out in the office, and employees can be trusted to plan their own movements without impacting their productivity.”
Abi Roni Mattom, Country Director, India - Connect on Linkedin
As a thought leader within the corporate real estate industry, Abi brings over 17 years of experience delivering exceptional workplace solutions for some of the worlds most innovative brands. Having shared the stage with fellow leaders at global industry forums such as CoreNet and DBIA, Abi has a passion for sharing his knowledge and insights to empower others.