Returning To The Office: How To Thrive

By Sophie Richards on 11 November 2020

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Preparing the defence industry workforce for a return to the office

  • More Australians want to work from home post COVID-19

  • 75% think employers should support future work from home plans

  • The defence industry needs to incorporate new flexible working arrangements

Australia’s COVID-19 shutdowns have seen almost half the nation’s working population spending time working from home.

While access to system networks has required a larger percentage of defence industry workers to remain in the office, like other sectors COVID-19 has forced major adjustments to working arrangements.

Strategic & holistic approach

Kinexus Chief Operating Officer, Amelia De Angelis says as defence industry companies across the nation prepare for the new ‘COVID normal,’ it’s vital they take a strategic and holistic approach to returning their workforces to the office.

“COVID-19 forced defence industry organisations to react rapidly, to disperse workforces into their homes, with quick communication and fast turnaround times,” says Ms De Angelis.

“However, the return to work phase is different and companies can invest in planning their messaging to give employees ample time to process the changes before they happen.”

Many employees will now have established habits working from home, and may prefer, or in some cases feel anxious, about returning to an office setting.

A recent study by the University of Sydney found that more Australians want to work from home an average of two days per week after the COVID-19 pandemic, while 75 per cent of workers think employers will support future work from home plans.

Explain the benefits of returning to the office

Ms De Angelis says it is important employers explain why returning to the office is essential for the business.

“The message needs to not just be we want you back, because that’s how we’ve always done things, but explaining the benefits of working face-to-face,” Ms De Angelis says.

“So many workplace activities are strengthened in a face-to-face setting. For example so much learning is done by osmosis.” 

A shift in mindset

However, while moving staff back to the office is an imperative, it’s important defence industry organisations adapt to the new workplace attitudes and trends prompted by COVID-19.

“I think there's been a fundamental shift in people's expectations in terms of flexibility,” Ms De Angelis says.

“Historically pre-COVID, in the defence industry there’s been a view that employees must be on site to carry out their work, but I think that’s starting to change, because there’s also great efficiency and productivity improvements that can be gained through flexible working arrangements.”

Social anxieties

Given the safety-first and regulated nature of the defence industry, Ms de Angelis says employees will have a high level of trust in their employers’ ability and dedication to provide a ‘COVID-safe’ environment. However, she says anxiety about returning to work may be driven by other factors.

“The things that used to be normal are now abnormal,” she says.

“We're not used to catching the train for 45 minutes to get to an office with a bunch of other people and have to navigate all it’s associated with. So I think organisations need to be really conscious of that, and aware that whilst yes, previously, a lot of things were standard expectations, it's going to take people some time to be able to process through that”.

“Some people will be ready to jump back into the office the first chance that they get, but for other people it will actually create a level of worry and concern.”

Optimising the new working world 

While the changes occurring to working life are profound, like the industry itself, defence workers are agile, accommodating and have the ability to rise to the challenge.

With the right planning and advice, the new working environment can yield great opportunities for employees and employers alike.

For more information on how your organisation can successfully make the transition to the post COVID-19 working world, or for any other staffing issues, please contact our team of experts.

Photo by Laura Davidson on Unsplash

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