Returning to the Office: Paving the Way for Employees

Returning to the Office: Paving the Way for Employees

By Kira Pogge

It’s been months since much of the world implemented stay-at-home orders, forcing many businesses to enable employees to work from home with virtually no time to prepare.

This change meant leaders needed to think about technical challenges, security gaps, as well as effective communication and collaboration techniques for a remote workforce. Now, countries, states, and cities are lifting restrictions and encouraging businesses to slowly open their doors.

To ensure a smooth transition, start with your employees. Understand that the environment won’t be the same as it was before COVID-19 and people may be nervous about returning to the office. You can alleviate some concerns by preparing and communicating openly with your employees.

We’ve developed a series of checklists to help businesses as they reopen offices. The checklists cover four key imperatives for the transition: your employees, your office space, your technology stack, and your clients.

Below are some highlights from our “People” checklist, which is focused on keeping staff informed of your efforts to get back into the office safely.

  • Create a “Return to the Office'' taskforce or “point person”: A person or team to lead the efforts of optimizing the office for return ensures clear communication with employees.
  • Create a “Return to the Office” schedule: Manage how many people are arriving and working in the office, and when. Consider a phased approach with health screening, and prioritizing who needs to be in the office.
  • Establish an ongoing “Work From Home” policy: Ensure your office isn’t overly crowded and reassure employees who are nervous about returning to the office that they have the option to “take it slow.”
  • Tell employees to stay home if they or someone they live are feeling sick or exhibiting any known COVID-19 symptoms. This ensures employees working in the office feel safe and employees who may be sick don’t feel pressure to come into the office.
  • Encourage appropriate safety practices in your office: Practices include frequent hand washing, use of hand sanitizers, eliminating high-touch areas, and wiping down workspaces.
  • Check with local health officials about health screening recommendations: Consider a daily health screening procedure but make sure you reach out to your legal representative for guidance before deploying any procedures.
  • Establish open communication with your employees: Create a cadenced stream of communication with your employees and ensure they understand the channels available to them should they have questions or concerns.

If you’re interested in learning more, you can access the full “People” checklist (as well as the entire series of checklists) here.

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