When you return to work after COVID, how will offices change? There’s been a great deal of speculation and we’ve written many articles on what we think you can expect, including social distancing methods and solutions for disinfecting your office been covered. But what about what not to do when employees go back to work?
1. Do NOT give up real estate when you return to work.
While it might seem like the best way to make money, selling, renting, or leasing some (or all) of your office space will only temporarily help your cash flow. Businesses need to be thinking of long-term solutions that will set them up for future success.
Instead of contemplating how your organization can downsize, think of practical ways to outfit your real estate with safety in mind. Adding things such as sneeze guards, privacy panels, moveable desks, and height-adjustable furniture can maximize your current layout for a new way of working.
But there are also low-cost solutions that can make your space work for you, not against you. More companies are understanding the importance of remote work, which may or may not be advantageous for your specific industry. Others intend to implement staggered work schedules when their offices reopen, where only a certain number of employees are working in the office at one time.
2. Do NOT stop communicating.
Most likely your entire staff has been working from home for the past several months while your office was out of commission. And most likely you’ve had improved communication with those staff members. This is how offices will change after COVID–for good. When you return to work, this unexpected perk should remain the same.
Things like scheduling more frequent one-on-one meetings, continuing whatever virtual chat platform you were using while telecommuting, and developing a re-orientation to the workplace are a few ways to keep communication flowing. When it comes to the physical workspace, touchdown spaces and team meetings should still be a priority but conducted with safety in mind.
3. Do NOT do this alone.
Talk with your employees and assess how offices will change after COVID and their comfortability with returning to the office. Some might not want to come back right away, others might not even need to. Take each individual into account. Ask whether they would feel safer with social distancing furniture outfitted for their personal workspace. Brainstorm ideas for returning to a safe and healthy workplace with your entire team, not just yourself or the executives.
This is a puzzling and extraordinary time. Returning to the office will undoubtedly be a confusing process. With a comprehensive and thoughtful plan created by your employees, your organization will be more able to return to work with confidence and the knowledge that their employer cares about their wellbeing.
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