Coming out of lockdown and returning to the office didn’t quite turn into the celebratory event we all were envisioning. The pandemic is still raging across the globe, and businesses are trying hard to maintain operations while keeping employees and customers safe. While a number of companies have decided to embrace telecommuting as the norm, others are anxious to return back to the traditional office setting. Here are a few tips that can make the process a little easier for both employers and workers.
1. Embrace Flexibility
According to the EY 2021 Work Reimagined Employee Survey, nine in ten respondents want flexibility in where and when they work, and more than half globally would consider quitting if their employer does not provide flexible work arrangements post-COVID-19 pandemic. Whether your employees prefer to work out of the office, be remote full time, or some combination of both, accommodating their needs should be a top priority if you’d like to retain your talent. Furthermore, if your operations are not dependent on strict 9-to-5 business hours, you should allow your employees to put in their hours at a time most convenient for them.
2. Provide a Clean and Healthy Environment
In the pre-pandemic days, most offices had janitorial service only a couple of times a day, and in some smaller buildings, even only once after hours. The ease of transmission of the coronavirus, however, requires heightened precautions. This means cleaning and sanitizing commonly touched areas in bathrooms, break-rooms, elevators, and lobbies multiple times a day. You may also encourage employees to clean and sanitize their work areas, computers, and other office equipment daily by providing the cleaning supplies, and posting friendly reminders throughout the office.
It is equally imperative to provide clean indoor air as the COVID-19 and a number of other viruses are easily transmittable through the air. While you may have to coordinate this with your landlord, there are a number of inexpensive HVAC upgrades and adjustments that can be made to improve the outdoor air flow throughout the building, and reduce the pathogen concentration as a result.
3. Consider a New Office Layout
Depending on how your office was arranged and furnished before the pandemic, you may have to plan on making some drastic office layout revisions before welcoming employees back. Allowing individual workers to have ample personal space, where they feel safe and protected, would be a top priority. This may mean spacing out desks, installing high divider cubicles, or even building out personal offices. One thing is for sure, the open floor layout is gone.
Also, consider eliminating large break-rooms and replacing them with several smaller break areas to avoid large gatherings. You can even use furniture and other fixtures to redirect office traffic flows in a way that promotes social distancing.
4. Take Advantage of Technology
While it may not always feel like it, technology is meant to make our lives easier. It is in difficult times like these that we need to embrace it more than ever. If your business is dependent on face-to-face interactions, outfit your office with video conferencing software and equipment so telecommuters and office workers can collaborate effortlessly.
Technology can even help with preventing the spread of COVID-19 and other diseases. If your landlord hasn’t done so already, ask them to install touch-free sensor-based fixtures in the building restrooms and kitchens, and to integrate smart elevator systems, which can be controlled by building users via a smartphone app.
5. Offer Employee Perks
The nationwide labor shortage caused by the pandemic has shone a new light on the importance of having a loyal workforce. Making your employees feel appreciated and happy to work for you will be more important than ever. While flexibility and work-life balance are the top priorities, there are a number of other ways you can show appreciation. Providing on-site mental health counseling, chair massages, healthy snacks, and cleaning supplies will not only improve your staff’s morale, but it may also entice them to come back to the office, at least part time.
Last but not least, be open to change. In a post-pandemic world, business success will require agility and rolling with the punches more than ever. If your current office setting is not suited for the post-pandemic way of work, you should contact our tenant representatives, who can help you find the right commercial space across the globe, dispose of any unused assets, and optimize your real estate portfolio.
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