During the pandemic, many people became used to working from home. As we return to some form of normalcy across the country, many employers and employees are gearing up for the transition back to the office. Though the idea seems simple enough, there is so much more that needs to be taken into consideration when welcoming back employees.
- Where will they sit?
- Do we have enough sanitizing equipment?
- Have we prepared the proper health protocols for the office?
- What else can we do to ensure team members feel comfortable?
Pre-pandemic, office layouts were designed to support team collaboration, face-to-face meetings, and employee gatherings. Nowadays, solo work and virtual meetings are encouraged instead and face-to-face meetings are held only if necessary. Making space within the office is important to help maintain social distancing. Spreading out desks or setting up barriers can also help put people at ease. Additionally, investing in general signage (like the one above) around the space to advise of the latest guidelines is a great way to keep employees informed.
Cleaning and disinfecting may be the most important aspect of returning to the office. Cleaning standards should be maintained at high levels to ensure everyone’s safety and well-being. Custodial staff should be informed of any new cleaning procedures and be provided with the proper resources, disinfectants, as well as equipment to achieve the new safety standards. Even hiring custodial services to clean between shifts will give employees a peace of mind when starting their days. Be sure to also provide disinfecting items such as wipes, sanitizers, and disinfecting sprays throughout the office for smaller spills and quick cleaning.
Option for Hybrid Schedules
The best way to ease your team into returning into the office is by considering to adopt a hybrid model. Having employees rotate days when they are physically at the office and working from home or offering a few days a month to be at home would help gear up employees for a return to full-time. This may help reduce capacity and maintain employees’ well-being in mind while allowing the business to keep running. This also helps with the transition back to in-person. Be sure to keep meetings and other gatherings virtual when possible.
Communication and Training
To implement a smooth transition back into the office, proper communication and training is crucial. Employers should have business guidelines that outline what has been changed and what is now expected of everyone while at the office. Proper signage should be displayed in visible areas. Be sure to allow time for training if certain procedures require extensive adjustments. All of these unprecedented changes can cause stress and concern. Communication is key in these situations to keep everyone on the same page and feeling as though their health is a top priority of the company.
Everyone should continue to use hygiene habits developed during the height of the pandemic: washing your hands, sanitizing, and avoid touching your face. Be sure to wear your mask, get vaccinated, and follow CDC and state guidelines based on where you are located. Everyone is on the road to recovery after a tough year and returning to the office means that things are slowly, but surely, getting back to normal.
Something we can all be happy about!