With updates on COVID-19 and restrictions on freedom presented daily, organisations are now preparing for their workforce to return to the office. The idea of the workforce going back to normality anytime soon may seem unrealistic to many but it is important to think about the future and consider what your future office will look like.
The lockdown has challenged businesses and has been a struggle but it has also opened up organisations eyes to remote working and the benefits. For some people, working from home improves productivity and team collaboration as well as improves their work to home life balance which overall improves their mental health.
“Stay alert and follow the rules”.
With the stay alert system in place, level 5 being the most critical stage and level 1 indicating COVID-19 is no longer present in UK, Boris Johnson has stated that “over the period of the lockdown we’ve been in level 4…in a position to move, in steps to level 3”.
So what does this mean? It doesn’t mean much for now but as the situation improves and we move from 4 to 3 and then into stage 2, this is when schools and businesses will open subject to some special measures. This is why it is important to start considering what this means your organisation, start planning your next steps and what you need to get in place.
Who is returning and when
Allowing an influx of staff to go back to the office will only spark huge risk and anxiety within the workforce, therefore a tiered process will need to be implemented. Staggering the re-introduction to the office and asking your team to join on a rotation basis will be the best way to ensure staff safety. The larger volume of staff within the office will only present a higher risk of the spread of COVID-19, which is not what you want.
Continue remote working
When you start to re-introduce your workforce to the office, remote working will still play a huge part as team members will only returning to the office on a staggered, rotation basis.
Moving forward, even after COVID-19 you may even consider to offer remote working on a permanent basis, much like Twitter has or offering remote working as a flexible option.
Remote working can reduce stress, improve both your mind and body and can benefit the environment. It can improve the home to work life balance and a happier employee usually means a better mental attitude towards their job and therefore will have increased productively and success within the workplace.
Re-visit your office layout
Social distancing regulations will need to be adhered to with heightened hygiene practices put in place. When you think about your usual 9am start in the office, you can bump into 7 people on your way to your desk and a further 4 on your way to the kitchen and that’s all within the first 10 minutes of being there. Moving forwards, the way employees move around the office will need to be reconfigured and clear, spacious walkways will need to be laid out.
Desk areas, toilets and communal areas such as kitchens and lounges will all need to be considered and clear protocols will need to be put in place.
Put office moral first and maintain communication
Putting employee health and happiness first throughout this difficult time has been the number one priority and this shouldn’t change as we re-enter offices. You should address any employee concerns, build your company culture, acknowledge and praise employee achievements and positive feedback should always be showcased.
We are currently doing a range of things to keep up moral and maintain communication, including remote working advice videos (which are rather humorous), sending out daily emails with varied information, including updates, images and videos of the team. We hold a weekly virtual pub, Taskmaster competitions with pizza as the prize and daily drop in video calls where you can join for 5 minutes and have a cuppa.
Review your IT and infrastructure requirements
During COVID-19 many organisations have had to review their infrastructure requirements to enable remote working for their teams, moving forward and thinking about the future workplace it is recommended that you contact you IT team and/or IT support provider to improve and alter your infrastructure to align it with any new business changes or goals so that your staff and business can operate as productivity as possible and so that you are giving your team what they need to best perform their jobs.
In order to sustain business operations and success, you should consider what solutions and services all of your business functions require in order to maintain and improve team communication, productivity and collaboration.
Reflect and improve
What we can take away from this uncertain time is improved communication between our teams, care and wellbeing of one another, stronger collaboration from programmes such as Microsoft Teams (you can get this as part of the Microsoft 365 Business Premium package) and an improved work to home life balance.