Managing Temporary Staff after Lockdown

by Maureen Lynch, Director of Hays Ireland

The world of work is moving into a new era. As the lockdown lifts, we’ll in all likelihood find ourselves in a ‘hybrid’ phase for a long time, where social distancing rules still apply, but organisations will be keen to get staff back into the workplace. This will result in an agile style of working in which employees will be dividing their time between remote and on-site working. Temporary staff will be invaluable during this time to offer additional support and ease the transition, but how should you go about managing a temporary workforce in a world of agile working and social distancing?

Here are 4 questions to ask yourself as you look for temps to join your organisation after lockdown.

1. Can they work remotely?

If this crisis has taught us anything, it’s that most working practices can be carried out remotely. If you’re managing a temporary worker in the new era, does their role require them to be on-site? If not, encourage them to keep working remotely even as lockdown restrictions relax. This will also help your permanent workforce re-integrate into the workplace by limiting the number of people in the office.

Be sure, however that you are still including the remote portion of your workforce, temporary or otherwise, in your department discussions and making use of digital collaboration software like Microsoft Teams. Check out some of our recent advice on managing your remote workers to better integrate your remote workers during this time.

2. Are you prepared for social distancing at work?

As the lockdown lifts, office spaces and worksites will still need to enforce social distancing. This will be a change for all staff, but any changes in protocol will need to be clearly communicated to temporary workers before they come in for the first time. Do you expect your organisation to have a cap on the number of people allowed on-site at once? Are there temperature checks at the door, and will exceptions for workers using public transport be made? All of these questions and more need to be discussed with any new temporary worker so that they feel safe and secure when working with you.

We’ve found that a number of new health and safety roles have emerged from the coronavirus crisis, such as the Covid Marshall, who checks social distancing regulations are being observed, and the Space Planner – who adapts and rearranges your workplace for optimum performance when social distancing. If you’d like to discuss your requirement for extra health and safety support, contact your local recruitment consultant.

3. Have you considered alternative working hours?

If your new temporary worker is required to come into the office on a regular basis, consider changing your working hours or working patterns so that productivity remains constant while the volume of workers on-site remains at the minimum.

Limiting face-to-face interaction by establishing shift work, alternating days and working hours can all help to create a safer working environment. Any new processes l that you’re putting in place need to be communicated to your new temporary workers as well as your existing workforce.

4. Are you supporting and communicating with your new temps?

It’s a challenging time to be a temporary worker. Joining a new organisation, onboarding remotely and working on a hybrid basis for people they’ve barely met is could be a daunting experience. As their manager, you need to ensure that they receive enough support and encouragement to deliver on their projects and feel safe doing so. This means constant and transparent communication – whether they are working remotely or not. They need to be suitably informed on any policy or process changes you make which may affect them. Wellbeing is still your first priority, for both your permanent and temporary workforce.

Temporary workers are going to be vital for your organisation over the next few months as lockdown restrictions ease and you need more support either in the workplace or from those working remotely. By prioritising their safety, adopting and communicating any new social distancing practices and offering support wherever it’s needed, your temporary workforce will be ready and waiting to ensure your organisation thrives in the new world of work.