While the majority office workers are still working remotely, many are wondering what will happen once they need to go back to the office.
According to several office managers, the office culture that we knew before the pandemic has changed beyond recognition for good. While it is impossible to make the office 100% safe, employers and public health offices are already contemplating what offices will look like by 2021. Many changes are now being considered, from rotating which employees come in on each date, closing off common areas, to increasing sanitation — just to name a few solutions.
Early experience from Asia suggests transparency, flexibility and iteration are essential elements to include in return-to-workplace plans — especially because of the possibility of multiple rounds of re-entry and re-exit over a protracted period, depending on coronavirus infection rates.
Focus on Door-to-Door Safety of the Employees
Ensure Social Distancing Within the Office
Eliminate or at least hot-desking, restrict the number of people allowed in meeting rooms and shared areas like kitchens and company restaurants, and reevaluate floor plans to support social distancing. Use tactics such as staggered work start times and alternate-day schedules to reduce congestion. In larger, more congested offices, you may put markers on floors and desks to remind and ensure physical distancing.
Provide Transportation Alternatives
Under normal circumstances, most public-transit trips are taken by office workers and university students. For example, one beverage manufactures now provides shuttle buses to and from the workplace as an alternative to taking public transport. Employees need to reserve the seats online to ensure the social distancing on board and limit the number of riders.
Conduct Health and Safety Checks at Entry
It has become a common practice to measure the body temperature of employees when they arrive at the workplace. On top of that, companies are now also asking for regular health reports.
Utilize Employee Feedback
Collect employee feedback and monitor employee engagement levels, mindset and level of comfort regarding their return to the workplace — and continue to monitor once employees have returned.
Solicit employee feedback frequently, don't rely on traditional surveys that only take place once a month or even less frequently. Nothing affects company performance worse than frightened and disengaged employees.
Your feedback questions should be aimed at monitoring your organization’s success in mitigating risks and protecting employees. Frequent feedback also encouraged employees to share improvement ideas.
Leverage Multiple Feedback Channels
Leverage multiple feedback channels to get frequent and unbiased employee opinion. For example, touchless ExpressPods can be a great tool to quickly measure employee feelings in meeting rooms or cafeterias, while you can use quick SMS surveys to stay informed whether they felt safe travelling in and out of work.