Whether your company is fully returning to the office or choosing a hybrid (partly remote) model, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done. At every company, things will look different. And that’s okay. What’s most important is that you survey your employees and talk to them about their expectations, concerns, and wants. With this information at hand, it’ll be that much easier to make decisions confidently and empathetically.
On top of the complicated task of managing people, there are new policies to create and maybe even new technology to implement.
We spoke with managers from across the world to hear their advice for getting everyone back to the office safely and happily.
1. Survey your employees
“A portion of the planning will involve getting my employees’ take on what they want and need in the office. Surveys will be sent to get a feel of what needs to be done. Whatever I decide, the important thing is to disseminate the information to all employees a week before we return! This will ensure that things stay organized even during the transition.”
– Rachel Klaver, Co-founder of Identify Marketing
2. Implement a booking system for shared workspaces
“Prior to the global COVID-19 pandemic, OnBuy was operating with a dedicated team of just 15 office-based employees. Despite several nationwide lockdowns and a complete transition from in-house to remote working, the business’ immense success has led to numerous new hires across the company, resulting in over 85 members of staff and counting. With the further relaxation of lockdown restrictions on the horizon, we’ve secured larger premises to allow all employees to safely return to working in-house if desired. Until this move is actioned, we’ve implemented a booking system that gives staff the opportunity to work in the office using the 55 workstations currently available, providing them with extra flexibility where necessary.”
– Cas Paton, CEO of OnBuy.com
3. Add some fun to your welcome-back planning
“We’re focused on fun just as much as on training. Apart from the cleaning preparation, I’ve assembled goodie bags with fun treats, bubbles, whistles, lip chap, and such for the day we return. We’ll also do a theme day each Friday for a few weeks to bring things back to a team feel. And Puppy Thursday will resume, where employees are invited to bring their socialized dogs to work”
– Maria Ferronato, Office Manager at The Gentleman Pros
4. If you have the space, come to the office on overlapping days
“The first step was to discuss the options with our teams to get a general understanding as to how and what people expect as restrictions are lifted. From this, we decided to create a hybrid approach. Now, we’re working with all staff members to iron out our hybrid model and what the ratios will be. For now, it looks like we’ll stick with two days in the office, and three days out of the office. We have enough space for everyone to be back at the same time, so we’re encouraging people to keep their two office days to Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays so we can interact more.”
– Robert Hourie, Director of GemPool
5. Create more space around cubicles
“For the employees that don’t have their own office, we are guaranteeing them at least six feet on all sides, with the option of a partition or cubicle. In addition to our nightly cleaning service, we’ve added a lunch-hour service that will sanitize high-traffic areas like the break room, reception, and meeting rooms. I’m sure we’ll have to adjust as we navigate the ‘new company workplace,’ but first things first. Employee wellness, and then follows effectiveness.”
– Alison Pearson, Head of HR at Hal Waldman and Associates
6. Use tech for touchless experiences
“Our technology game at our new headquarters opening later this summer will be state of the art, including sound masking and app-based door entry to phone and conference rooms. We’ll also be installing a Bevi machine for sparkling and flat flavor-infused water. Each machine will have QR Code smartphone ordering, enabling a limited touch experience.”
– Jamie Ridley, Senior Office & Event Manager at Prodege
7. Post signage for new procedures
“We plan on slowly coming back to the office starting in July. We have separated the office space more than usual and are using cubes for some of the associates to ensure there is spacing and an extra border separating them. We also have posted in the office area a new procedure for cleaning your desk, chair and accessories each evening before you leave. Lastly, in the past, we had cleaners out once every two weeks. We have now scheduled a deep clean every Friday evening. We believe these new procedures and additions should help to keep a healthy and clean environment for all our associates to work safely back in the office.”
– Jeff Moriarty, Marketing Manager at My Supplement Store
8. Ramp up the sanitization
“During the pandemic, we invested in a new, independent office space for our employees to return to, a space that wasn’t in a managed building to minimise contact with other people. We have provided all desks with their own sanitization station and placed contactless sanitization dispensers around the building. Cleaning the office space is undertaken by a specialist company every weekend, but we also set time aside at the end of each day for every employee to sanitize their own workstation in preparation for the next day they are working in the office.”
– Simon Brisk, Founder of Click Intelligence
9. Rollout hybrid-ready software for collaborating as a team
“We’re taking several steps to ensure that the transition back is not only safe but also financially sustainable. We’re transitioning from the use of stand-alone applications to an integrated Business Management System. Now that our team is hybrid, it is important to have streamlined communication and collaboration.”
– Ben Lamarche, General Manager at Lock Search Group
10. Limit physical contact with clients
“We’re working to limit physical interaction with clients. This is possible by executing orders via the Internet or telephone, contactless delivery or controlled entry of persons (while avoiding crowds outside the premises) and physical distancing inside and outside the business premises.”
– Mike Sheety, founder of That Shirt
To make sure you are ready for the return to office life, check out our ebook and checklist, The Ultimate Guide to Getting Back to the Office.
DISCLAIMER: This document (and any information accessed through links in this document) is provided for general information purposes only, does not constitute legal or other professional advice, and may not be quoted or referred to by any third party without the prior written consent of Gett. The opinions contained within this article are those of the quoted parties and do not represent the views of Gett. Changes in circumstances may impact the accuracy and validity of the information contained in this document. Legal or other professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this document. © Gett July 2021 – All rights reserved.