With the lockdown slowly lifting across more and more industries, businesses are considering the future of working in an office environment and how to do so safely. We will look at how businesses are planning their return to the office and what their new normal may look like.
No matter the approach your business decides to make, there will be a lot of preparation and planning involved in the process. This doesn't have to make the situation overly complex or convoluted, simple processes which are communicated clearly are the key to success.
Many businesses are building protocols for new internal processes such as cleaning on arrival and exit of a work station, washing external items being introduced into the workplace (e.g prepared meals or personal packages) and their own track & trace systems. These protocols can, depending on the nature of your business, include external policy. An external protocol will ensure your staff are safe when they are out of your controlled working environment. We've already seen examples of business meetings moved to outside locations and staff making pre-meeting checks to ensure they are able to social distance.
Even the best-laid plans will crumble without employee buy-in. It's important that even before an employee steps back into your office that they are bought-in to the new processes and protocol. Ensuring your managers are not only communicating the changes but enforcing them will be vital to any plan. Breaking down employee, manager, HR and real estate services responsibilities will help keep your message clear.
Over the lockdown period, we hosted a number of webinars around mental health in the workplace. A key takeaway for many attendees was a mindful reintroduction of staff to the workplace. This means ensuring that you're communicating and discussing changes with your employees early and considering the mental health ramifications of furloughing staff and lockdown workloads have had on your employees.
Many businesses are putting in place socially distance working environments where they can. This additional space requirement means that there is less workspace in many offices, and as an added safety precaution many businesses are introducing split teams, staggered hours and attendance rotations. This blend of remote work and office work means increasing employee engagement and still retaining a safe environment for work.