Tuesday 26th May 2020
Returning to the office after COVID-19 1

It’s been an extremely difficult few months for billions of people around the world dealing with the COVID-19 breakout. Living with restrictions and under lockdowns has severely compromised our personal lives, our social lives and, of course, our working lives.

But thankfully, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Many countries are now starting to very carefully unwind their restrictions, and start the long journey towards returning to normal (whatever that may look like).

A very important part of that will be getting people back to work in their normal office environments. Lockdowns have forced millions of people into working from home at very short notice, and while that does deliver some advantages, in many cases it just isn’t a practical long-term solution for the future of work.

When people work together in the same physical space, they’re far better able to communicate and collaborate compared to doing so digitally. They’re also better able to coordinate themselves as teams when needing to work with other departments. And importantly, they feel more sociable and less isolated, which can make a major difference to mental health and wellbeing.

It’s important from a business perspective, too. Yours may be one of countless companies who are currently spending on rent, utilities, connections and other overheads for real estate that’s currently sitting empty. Preparing those premises for a phased return to the office is therefore critical for all parties – but the transition has to be done right to ensure safe social distancing measures.

Handling the office return with care

The consequences of putting the wrong return-to-work strategy in place could be catastrophic. For a start, it could endanger the health of the workforce by posing a serious risk of infection. But there are knock-on effects for the business as a whole, too.

There will be legal commitments around re-opening offices that you’ll need to comply with. Not meeting them could not only result in punishment from law enforcement, but could also lead to legal action from employees who feel their health and safety has been disregarded. And once these matters become public knowledge, your brand reputation will be severely affected.

It’s important to retain strong human resource, too. Enabling as many people to work in the office as possible, as much as possible, is key to maximizing the functionality of your business.

All this may take time, but that said, it is important to get your workforce back into the office sooner rather than later. A prolonged closure could be a serious inhibitor to revenue growth as well as operational efficiency. And with a recession looming, every dollar will be critical in order to survive and maintain profitability.

Sorting all this out sounds complex – but it is absolutely essential.

What’s the solution?

The answer to establishing your ideal return-to-work framework lies in integrated technology. With so many factors to consider around work scheduling, social distancing measures and sanitization, it’s the most effective way of joining the dots and ensuring everyone is safe, whenever and wherever they are in the building.

With a technology-based solution, functional across desktop and mobile, it’s possible to deploy:

  • Space/capacity management: redesign your office environment to meet social distancing measures, with desks blocked for bookings to keep active employees apart, and meeting room capacity limits reduced.
  • Flexible work scheduling: ensure employees know before they travel to work when they’ll be working, where they’ll be sitting and who else will be in the office that day. This also makes it easy to stagger shifts and to enable part-office, part-home arrangements to suit the individual employee.
  • Workspace sanitization: automatically factor in the deep cleaning needed after every use of a space. Block out time for cleaning in between desk bookings, and generate a detailed cleaning schedule for your sanitization team.
  • Contact tracing: quickly react when any employee becomes infected or starts to show symptoms. Identify where they’ve been, when they were there and who they’ve come near, immediately block desks or meeting rooms off for deep cleaning, and notify any other employees involved that they must work from home.

In the first of a six-part webinar series on the topic of a safe return to the office, the above was discussed in more detail.

Watch a recording of the webinar Returning to the Office After COVID-19:

Returning to the office after COVID-19

This holistic approach gives you the best possible chance of delivering a safe, secure, phased return to work for your employees. It’s going to be a long road to the ‘new normal’, but technology can play a major part in getting your business there.

Find out more on how Condeco can help you safely manage the new normal.

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