Managing the return to work for your employees

Many people’s expectations for the working environment have changed. With new methods showing the capability of remote working, it has become a favoured idea for those already in the workforce and the younger generation stepping into it. The coronavirus vaccine rollout is giving us a promising light at the end of the road, and businesses need to look towards the future as people begin returning to work. Working from home has impacted a vast amount of people and highlighted this new potential way forward as a way of working, breaking out from the rigid routines of daily offices. Coming to the end of the pandemic means there will be many people uncertain about returning to work and the idea of going back to the old ways can feel like a step backward. A combination of working in the office and at home will create more satisfied employees and increase productivity.  

People are asking for more flexibility now with the opportunities to work from home several times a week. As a company, it will be important to keep up with these new ways of working or someone else will; making it significantly harder to retain talent. A global survey of more than 9000 knowledge workers (roles including architects, engineers, scientists, and design thinkers) reveals the high percentage of people from countries such as the USA, UK, France, Japan, Germany, and Australia all wanting to have a hybrid work environment. This hybrid-style allows for the opportunity to work remotely at least 1 day a week and gives employees the chance to balance their time between the office and home. 72% said they prefer the combination of remote and office work, with the rest split fairly evenly between preference over fully returning to the office (12%) and exclusively working from home (13%).  

There have been many pros and cons discovered by this abrupt move to remote working and everyone has been affected differently. With only 3% of respondents saying they feel no benefit to working from home, we are left with a vast majority of people who have found parts of their working life far easier. Some of the most common benefits included no commuting, saving money, and improved work-life balance. Higher levels of satisfaction with remote working is felt overall as employees have reduced levels of stress and anxiety, plus a better work-life balance gives them more leisure time and opportunities with family.  

Challenges are certainly felt as well. The top challenges with working from home included unstable Wi-Fi, feelings of loneliness or isolation, and keeping up with what others are working on. When it is no longer as simple as turning your chair around to someone and getting an immediate answer to your question, there needs to be a strong focus on communication. Not to mention the lack of bonding when it’s harder to discuss what everyone got up to over the weekend, or their exciting dinner plans when it’s over messages and emails. Maintaining and building working relationships with colleagues was a difficulty many people found, leading to a decreased sense of belonging, which was particularly prominent in new employees. Not everyone is able to work remotely either. People in jobs such as construction and engineering are required to be on site and in particular locations, making it harder to create a hybrid environment.  

A mixture of both benefits and challenges is affecting everyone uniquely, and there are steps you can take as an employer to make the transition back to work easier, as well as adapting to new expectations. Such as, keeping a hybrid approach that provides employees with flexibility. It’s not just beneficial to those returning to work, but can also increase productivity across the board to help your business thrive. As a company, it is key to plan exactly what will happen. There has been a lot of confusion and uncertainty throughout the pandemic and the working environment, so be clear in what you are doing, as well as what you want from the team. Having set dates and plans for when people return to work means that it is easy for employees to know where they need to be and when. It’s understandable that plans may change based on government advice or a shift in circumstances for people, so be sure to prepare for as much as you can and allow for flexibility in details. Phasing people back may be helpful in order to create a smoother transition, and don’t forget, it’s been a while since many of us interacted with someone face-to-face!  

It can’t really be emphasised enough, but communication is vital, whether that is informing people of changes to plans or to thank them for working through a time period that is new to us all. Guidelines and rules change often so be sure to know your own plan and communicate it clearly to employees. Remote working requires heavy attention on how much people are in contact with each other and there are so many ways of making it easier. Overall, it is important to have flexibility with your team and understand that returning to work for furloughed employees may be a more difficult transition.  

With almost three quarters of people from diverse countries having new expectations from the work environment, there are many benefits gained for both employees and businesses. To keep up with the competition, providing employees with flexible, hybrid working makes your business far more attractive to potential talent and retains the skills you already have. If you are looking for new members to grow your team, we can help! Give us a call to find out more and let us discover the best skills to keep your business moving forward. 

Transforming London’s Skyline

Transforming London’s Skyline by 2020 is a huge task, however, it is something that is already in the process of being changed. We have witnessed many new builds this year, which are already helping to achieve this goal, and there is plenty more to come in the next 2 years.  Let’s take a look at some of the construction taking shape in 2018.


The Embassy Gardens

The Embassy Gardens is situated in Wandsworth. Designed by FCB Studios, The Embassy Gardens will overlook the river Thames in Nine Elms from 2018. It will be home to the new US Embassy building, as well as a park, and two residential towers which will be linked by a “Sky Pool” designed by HAL architects.

The Corniche

The Corniche is situated in Lambeth. It is a mixed-use development featuring three landmark towers on the south bank of the River Thames, opposite the Houses of Parliament. The buildings will have around 253 apartments, which will include affordable homes for senior living, along with offices, restaurants and residents bar, gym, and pool facilities. The building itself will have floor to ceiling windows, and the curved edge of the building will maximise the views across the River Thames.

Manhattan Loft Gardens

The Manhattan Loft Gardens will be in Newham, which is one of the fastest growing parts of the city with the amount of hi-rises located there. The Manhattan Loft Garden is just one of many towers that will be coming to Newham by 2020. The architects behind this building are also the same architects who were behind the tallest building in the world, The Burj Khalifa. The building will be 42 storeys high and will include leisure facilities, a pool, a spa and a roof garden which will overlook the Olympic Park.

London City Island

London City Island is located by Canary Wharf. It is surrounded by water and is connected by a bridge, and will become the headquarters for the English National Ballet. The building, which was designed by Glenn Howells architects, will also include thousands of homes as well as restaurants, shops, offices and even a pedestrian cycle route.

These are some of the projects that are set to be completed by the end of 2018. However, this is not the end of the construction to transforming London’s Skyline, with many more to start and be completed by 2020. Some of these are; 22 Bishopsgate – the City, Ram Brewery, Wandsworth — 2019, The Can of Ham, the City — 2019 and Spire London, Tower Hamlets — 2020.

How do you feel about the transformation of London’s Skyline? What are your favourite new builds? Tweet us @HighfieldREC

Which rail qualifications are best for you?

With the progression of HS2 and Crossrail, the rail industry is booming. Now is a great time to look at refreshing your industry knowledge, and gaining some qualifications that will help progress your career in the next few years.

We understand there are many qualifications out there to choose from, so we’ve outlined a few below that will help your CV stand out from the competition, and enhance your expertise in the industry.


Gaining the status of Chartered Engineer (CEng) can significantly boost your salary, and is recognised around the world. Technical Rail professionals should look at this option to highlight to potential employers their years of dedication and expertise in their industry.

Professional membership is gained through initially registering with an engineering institute that is licensed by the Engineering Council. The Institute will then organise your professional review, which may include an interview.

APM and Prince2

For any professional serious about moving into Project Management in the industry, these qualifications are essential and are recognised internationally.

There are many ways to gain qualification, with courses being available online, in a classroom or on site. The University of Westminster is one of many establishments offering the course.

Each course lasts less than a week, which is a small price to pay for the extra £10,000 a year that it is said to be added to your salary.

IRSE Accredited Technician

A niche accreditation for signalling professionals, IRSE demonstrates to potential employers that you are competent in signalling or telecommunications engineering techniques.

You will need to be recommended to the institute from a sponsor (an IRSE Fellow or Member) who is confident you will be able to pass the exams. Once written confirmation from the IRSE is gained, you should apply online, and then complete the online modules.

It is worth noting there are deadlines for application, which will affect the dates in which you are able to complete the online exam.


Aimed towards Rail professionals who work on site, the Construction Skills Certification Scheme confirms to employers that you are capable of carrying out specific work on site safely and effectively.

There are a whole host of different CSCS cards; head over here to find our complete breakdown, to see which one is best for your rail career. From our experience, the Manager card is the most valuable for Rail professionals.


What qualifications do you hold that you feel have helped to progress your career in the rail industry? We’d love to hear what has boosted your CV!

Highfield are a Certified Carbon Neutral Business