Tips for Teams Ready to Reenter the Workplace
As areas stabilize from the COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home restrictions are lifted, many organizations are ready to begin to bring workers back into the physical workplace. This process has already begun in some parts of the world, and is also expected to continue stateside.
However, with COVID-19 cases still on the rise in many parts of the country, it’s vital that organizations looking to return to the office prepare ahead of time, and take into consideration the many factors that have changed since leaving the office in March.
Offices certainly won’t look or operate the same as they did just a few months ago. Organizations preparing for the return to the workplace are undergoing significant changes in their people, process, office design, and even technology.
Here are three tips to use as you reenter your workplace post COVID-19:
Equip your workplace with proper protective measures
One of the most significant changes as organizations transition back to the workplace will be the physical precautions required to reduce risk of transmission. This includes having Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) available in the workplace for employees to utilize, such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer.
Workplaces should restructure their office setup so that employees are able to social distance. You may want to try using a social distancing desk tool to make it map out what a socially distanced floor plan looks like using only desks six feet or more apart. From there, you can assign or allow employees to book their own desks based on what’s available.
Organizations should also implement partitions between desks and social spaces, revised seating arrangements, and directional signage like floor markers for one-way hallways and staircases, and should limit use of shared spaces like soft seating areas, kitchens, and conference rooms.
For the full list of safety precautions, be sure to read the CDC’s COVID-19 Employer Information for Office Buildings guidelines.
Facilitate safe team meetups
Because most teams have been separated from each other for a few months, it’s likely that many employees will be looking forward to seeing their colleagues in person once again. Facilitating team meetings safely will be key in reinvigorating employee engagement after the time spent away.
Allow your teams the opportunity to safely host meetups for status checks, brainstorming sessions, collaboration, and more. Because organizations many have cut down on or eliminated office space, you may want to consider utilizing a meeting or coworking space which can supplement the space you may currently be lacking.
These types of spaces can allow your teams to meet in a location that’s convenient and can accommodate the size of the team with proper distancing measures in place. Not to mention, these are often affordable options that charge at an hourly rate.
Give employees the option to continue to work remotely
Not all of your employees will be ready to reenter the workplace as soon as you “hit go,” and that’s okay. Be sure to maintain a flexible work policy that allows your workforce to opt to work in the office or at home, and leave this decision up to their unique discretion and comfort levels.
Many workplaces are expecting to utilize a hybrid approach in which some employees work on site and others continue remote work. This is for a multitude of reasons—some office spaces will not be equipped to have capacity for all employees once social distancing measures are implemented, on the other hand, some employees may not feel comfortable returning to work when transmission is still a risk, or they might also encounter difficulty finding childcare.
With employees both in office and at home, it’s important to evaluate your tech stack and ensure that your technology can satisfy the needs of both types of employees. Tools that work in and out of the office will create a better-connected team of hybrid employees. Be sure you have the proper tools in place to secure your network capabilities, foster effective communication, and streamline organizational operations.
The health and safety of your staff was the driving force for having all your employees work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, so the health and safety of your employees should be your ultimate goal when returning them to the workplace. Keep these tips and considerations in mind when developing your plan for transitioning back into office life.