We’ve heard it before and it is likely to be said many times in the future – 2020 has been an unprecedented year. The rapid spread of COVID-19 led many business leaders to move their staff home for their safety. Now that regions around the United States are beginning to open again (though at relatively limited capacity), C-level staff has a tough decision to make – will they bring team members back to the office setting, or will they embrace WFH? Or perhaps a hybrid of both?
To make the best determination of what will work best for your company and team members, consider what the options will look like and what it will take to operate successfully within them.
For those that need to go back to the office to function more efficiently, understand that though there will be some return to normalcy, many things are bound to change drastically – at least for the next six months, if not longer. The most significant difference will be around social distancing and hygiene.
For example, businesses separating desks to six feet apart and including visual cues that help employees maintain distance. This could be done by creating specific pathways for staff to take or putting tape on the floor around work areas to help signify the space that should be maintained. It is also helpful to divvy up an open floor plan with moveable partitions and institute the use of plastic sneeze guards.
Sanitation is also key to a safer workplace. For some businesses, this may look like hiring additional cleaning staff. For others, it may only be asking employees to sanitize their workstation when they leave or by putting easy to clean film on high-touch areas, such as door handles or elevator buttons.
New policies concerning hygiene will also be a must, for example, taking temperatures when employees enter the building, promoting handwashing, providing tissues and touchless hand soap, towel dispensers, and trash cans.
One of the most significant changes to the workplace that can be extremely helpful is installing a DOAS (dedicated outdoor air system) HVAC system to increase ventilation and prioritize fresh air intake, rather than recycled air. As with any system such as this, regular cleaning is essential and will help exponentially.
Sound overwhelming? Unfortunately, in the same way that abruptly moving to remote work was a challenge, coming back amid a pandemic will be much of the same. Of course, this is not to say that you shouldn’t consider remaining remote or even having a portion of employees at home and a smaller group at the office. This option could save on the cost of larger commercial space but also brings with it a host of new problems, such as low work-life balance, difficulty communicating effectively, online meeting burnouts, and much more.
The good news is there is no right answer. Every business has a different culture and needs. It comes down to what will work best for your company’s future as well as your employee’s wellbeing. Consider all the factors before deciding, and don’t rush – the pandemic isn’t going anywhere.