Tuesday 12th May 2020
Back to the new normal - returning to the office post COVID-19

Slowly but surely, the world is emerging from the darkness of the COVID-19 lockdown and is blinking in the sunlight of trying to get back to work.

Of course, doing so won’t be a simple process. We all know that a return to normality, and a return to the office – whatever that may end up looking like – will be gradual and will require businesses to take significant steps to keep their workforce safe and minimise the threat of another wave of infections.

Every organization will have different needs and circumstances to plan for as they start their return journey to a COVID-19 secure workplace.

But what is true for everyone is that the return must be conducted thoroughly, be flexible enough to meet ever-changing requirements, and be implemented as quickly as possible in order to minimize damage to the business.

There are six key principles that should guide your return, and while some of them may be difficult or inconvenient for your business, they’re all essential parts of adapting to the ‘new normal’:

1. Redesign your workspace

Social distancing will be with us for some time yet, so you’ll need to make changes to how your office environments are laid out for distancing measures. By spreading out workstations so that they are sufficiently far apart, and by reducing the capacity of meeting rooms, you’ll be able to allow employees to safely return to office work, albeit in significantly reduced numbers.

2. Schedule with clarity

With only so many employees able to attend your workplace at any one time, you’ll need to carefully manage the who, when and where of coming into work. Schedules may need to be staggered to enable everyone to attend without breaching your capacity limit, while employees will still likely need to work from home at least some of the time. Organizing this in a clear, easily communicable way will be absolutely critical. The ideal situation would be one where each employee knows the exact details of their schedule and workstation before they even set off on their commute.

3. Co-ordinate your cleaning

Reduced capacity and staggered working schedules mean the same workstations will be used by several people over the course of a typical day or week. This therefore renders them a major potential hot-spot for infected people spreading the virus to others. Workstations and meeting rooms will need to be fully cleaned and sanitized after each individual use, and while this takes place, it’s important to make sure that other people can’t book or use the space during that time. So working cleaning time into workstation schedules will be just as important as working people into them.

4. Make your remote models permanent

Millions of people around the world have experienced regular home-working for the first time during the lockdown. And as employees have discovered the flexibility it gives them, and businesses have come to realise the potential for cost savings and efficiencies, many will want to continue with a degree of home-working on a permanent basis. It’s therefore worth considering what your future working model looks like, including whether to pivot towards a scaled-back office environment that’s primarily used for collaboration and for meeting clients.

5. Inspire confidence in your workforce

People are understandably wary about returning to environments where they will come into contact with lots of people, and workplaces are no exception to this. If you can’t convince people that they will be returning to work in the safest way possible, they will look for whatever way they can find to avoid it. So a critical part of the return will be to keep the lines of communication open, and clearly demonstrate to your workforce that you’ve taken steps within your office environment to keep them socially distant and minimize infection risks.

Building up trust is key to ensuring your business runs as smoothly as possible in these difficult circumstances.

6. Seek the help of technology

All of the points above can be addressed with the help of comprehensive desk management software. You can shape it to fit your redesigned workspaces, and open workstations up for advance bookings and scheduling. Sanitization periods can be scheduled to block areas off as required, and the flexibility of people working from the office or from home at different times can be managed seamlessly. And through operation via a mobile app, every member of the workforce can get all the information they need, whenever they need it and wherever they’re working from.

The next step

Condeco can support your business across every step of your return-to-work journey, with a combination of our rich expertise and our market-leading desk management software. To learn more about how we can help, download this free guide: Returning to the office after COVID-19.

Flexible Work eBook.

Flexible Work eBook

In this eBook, we explore how businesses can give their employees a flexible work experience that's user-friendly and supports their productivity, but in a way that is practical and sustainable for the employer, too.

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