Without a doubt, COVID-19 has greatly impacted our lives, and more specifically our workplace. A large majority of employees shifted to remote work and were obligated to adapt and reshape work practices. As many employees may have grown accustomed to working from home, companies are slowly preparing their employees to return to the workplace. With that said, here are five tips for bringing people back to the office safely:
1. Give employees options and time to adjust
Depending on the role in the office, many workers have preferred to work from home. However, it is important to establish a mutual agreement between the employee and employer. Giving employees the option to work remotely, in office or even both, allows them to feel safe and offers more time to consider returning permanently.
2. Prep the office
Retail stores have implemented social distancing and sanitary practices when having to adjust to COVID-19. Commercial office buildings require sanitary stations with hand sanitizers, accessible cleaning products and PPE, and should encourage frequent handwashing. When working in a large space during a pandemic, sanitary preparation and frequent cleaning is key to maintaining a safe and healthy office.
3. Space optimizations
Many commercial office buildings employ a large number of workers, and prior to the pandemic, co-working spaces were never an issue. Now, it is key for property managers to establish new floor plans to reduce hotdesking to accommodate employees safely. This reduces the fear of employees coming into contact with excessive amounts of people, while promoting fixed positions.
4. Less is more
It is important to consider the small details that complete an office building, including kitchen essentials, desk tools and other shared facilities in the building. This is the perfect time for employers to brainstorm and adapt, for example, replacing staff buffets/lunches with gift cards to food deliveries or restaurants. Removing communal areas and initiating COVID-friendly changes, such as encouraging staff to bring their own utensils, decreases employee fear and promotes a cleaner facility.
5. Listen to feedback
There is a lot of pressure on property managers and leaders to ensure a safe environment for tenants’ return, while also working on their daily tasks. To satisfy all parties, it is important to listen to tenant feedback and concerns, as they can help generate new ideas while also revoking fear of returning to the office.
Office buildings have been unoccupied for over a year now, and as we see a great improvement with how countries handle COVID-19, we are seeing positive advancements in returning to offices. With the consistent rollout of vaccines, we are accelerating the return to our normal lives. This is a wake-up call for facility managers and property managers to start expecting companies to begin their return to the commercial office buildings.