How to prepare the office and welcome your team back

Author Ivan Smiljanic Read bio
Tags: office workplace
Date: July 13, 2020

As companies continue to adapt to the new normal, changes to the workplace environment are made along the way. There is no script for this scenario. How to keep the workplace up and running with the workforce staying safe and protected? How will companies look and function? Will technology replace people where there is a place and resource for it?

Use your time effectively and get your workplace functioning quickly. Here are essential considerations to ensure a safe and successful transition back to work.

Many companies are slowly beginning to bring their employees back to the offices. This return to work place is inevitable for many around the globe, and it can be quite of a challenge. But it’s a challenge employers should support the employees through. 

What will our workplaces look like when we do return? Well, one thing is certain – it won’t be the same as we left it. 

The pandemic has highlighted the importance of investing in collaboration tools and it made clear that a digital workplace is in most cases the solution. Technology had a crucial role in working remotely. 

So what exactly can we do to get the digital, physical and the workforce ready for the return?

Steps we need to take to bring people back to the workplace

It’s the management’s task to come up with reopening strategy and to ensure that the return happens seamlessly. The first logical step is to think about WHEN and HOW employees would come back to the workplace. 

To help you get this strategy right, we prepared several useful practices and processes that you can use to reopen your workplace successfully

Prepare the building

You have a duty as an employer to ensure that your employees can work safely, from their entrance to the building until they leave it. You should consult the pre-return checks with a building manager, if there is one, to make sure that the environment is safe and healthy. 

You also need to observe the government guidelines and regulations about social distancing, meetings and hygiene practices. In the process of preparing the building for the return of the workforce, pay attention to next elements:

  • The design and layout of the office – give some thought to the setup of your office. Rearrange individual settings and desks.
  • Reduce the touchpoints – it’s important to make sure to minimize the “contact points” such as machines, scanners, handles and similar.

Prepare the employees

In order to make seamless transitions into the workplace, you need to make sure that management introduces the employees to the new norms. Everyone should understand the steps that are required of them in order to keep things safe.

It’s understandable that most people are nervous to get back to work, because they worry about their health. There will be some anxiety about the work environment and even the future of the company and their job positions. The management should ease the transitions with clear safety guidelines and empathy, because most employees will find the return to workplace stressful.

Access to the office & cleaning protocol

Not everyone should return to the office right away, and you need to make sure you define who should and consider whether it’s really necessary. 

Cleaning protocols are a crucial step. All tables, equipment, floors and furniture should be thoroughly cleaned. Cleaning team should be informed of new standards and protocols. Make this a top priority. 

Social distancing plan

To reduce the potential transmission of COVID-19, social distancing is still of utmost importance. By understanding the dynamics of how many people work from home and how many actually need to come into the office you will be able to create a social distancing plan and reinforce it. 

The following measures are highly recommended:

  • Supply the disinfectants on each desks and in immediate proximity;
  • Consider one way circulation route through the office space;
  • Increase the spaces between the desks and assign one chair to each employee;
  • Rearrange the equipment layout in order to keep the social distancing;
  • Make sure virtual meetings are still practiced whenever they can be;
  • Put distance plan on a map and post it around the office;
  • Share all new updated with the team;
  • Monitor the changes and adapt.

Shift your focus to the Digital Workplace!

Many companies have made it possible for their employees to work from home. But there are many others who are struggling with the shift to adapt their teams accordingly. 

Ask yourself: is your company ready for the future?

The digital workplace is and will continue to be a major factor in shaping the way companies operate. This pandemic has only accentuated that. However, this is the perfect time to rethink your digital workplace strategy.

Define your work from home policies, digital workplace, video conferencing tools as well as collaboration tools/softwares. This is absolutely necessary to survive and thrive in the current turn of events. 

Remember that communication is key. Communicate with your employees during the transition via many available channels. Everyone in your workplace should be informed about the new strategy and organisation.

Think about how you can turn this crisis into an opportunity to strengthen the team spirit, corporate structure, engagement and boost productivity levels. Find the right balance between virtual and traditional working. This can help you unlock a new potential for your business.