Returning to work - what will change?
In an environment of what feels like constant change or even chaos at times, there is still a need to proactively plan and prepare for what our ‘new normal’ will look like once we return to our offices and workspaces. As you reflect on how the last few months have affected your own work environment, take a pulse check, if you haven’t already, with your team. Where have they set up their work space? Have they taken conference calls while chasing a toddler or helping kids with homeschool activities? Have their normal work hours shifted beyond a standard 9-5 mentality?
These changes can affect not only our day to day work operations, but overall mental health as individuals. As we all had to adapt and change to offices closing a few months ago, we will certainly go through another period of transition once our regular work spaces open back up. Here are some questions to consider when preparing the physical space and also our mindset when returning to work:
How is my office currently set up? Will I need to construct barriers to protect employees and our customers? Where do we need to install additional hand sanitizer or PPE stations? Should we shift to rotating schedules or teams to ensure social distancing? Do we need to incorporate additional cleaning measures in-between or during work shifts?
What new policies do we need to incorporate into our daily operations? Procedures for entering/exiting the office? Policies for temperature checks? Review our current PTO or sick leave policies? Review of remote/telecommute policy moving forward?
How will my employees feel? Are they dealing with childcare issues? Have they experienced the effects first hand of the virus themselves? How is their mental health? Are some employees excited to come back to work, while others may not be looking forward to it?
How do I protect my employees? Are we operating in low, medium or high exposure risk environments? Where can I go for additional support? OSHA Guidance for Preparing Workplaces
Taking the time to think through and prepare may also be an opportunity to give employees a voice in expressing their concerns or thoughts on returning to work. Answering these questions may not be a one size fits all solution and developing the plan of action will most likely take a team effort. The plan developed today may need to be altered and changed as state regulations shift. Overall, keep in mind what we left will not be what we go back to at the office. The goal is to identify how to be safe and creative in responding to change.