In most cases, a crisis acts as a transitioning period, which requires one to adapt accordingly. At the moment, most businesses, like yours, are focusing on how to reopen your office and resume office operations at some point in the coming days. For that reason, most business owners are now working on the best formula for returning to day-to-day office engagements while keeping their employees safe.
The general expectation is that employees will be more cautious as they consider going back to the office. The implication, in this case, is that employers should prioritize making the office environment safe for their workers before normal operations resume.
Additionally, it is a fact that daily office activities will not take off at once, but gradually, depending on various factors affecting the operations of each office. As such, business owners should shift their attention to the best practices they should adopt as part of their return to the office strategy. Here are some of the measures you should consider putting in place before reopening your office:
1. Identify the Employees Who Should Resume Office Operations
Every employer will need to exercise extra caution when recalling workers to resume their office duties. Starting with a full office as operations resume will not be advisable. Additionally, authorities will also have guidelines on a workable return to office formula, and you need to consider that as well.
Once you have details about the return to office guidelines from the government, you can blend the same with what will work best for your organization. Some of the questions to ask in this case will include:
- What employees perform critical functions?
- What tasks can workers attend to only from the office?
- Is the return to office plan for employees who perform critical functions mandatory or not?
You can also consider using anonymous surveys to establish the concerns and willingness of your workers to resume office operations.
2. Perform Enhanced and Routine Office Cleaning
Cleanliness will indeed become the focal point for most offices as they reopen in the days to come. So, before opening your premises, you should prioritize enhanced cleaning to ensure the environment is clean and safe for everyone.
Routine cleaning of workspaces that individuals touch frequently will also be necessary going forward. It is also true that the demand for cleaning services will also be high as offices reopen, so contacting providers of such services in advance will be a wise idea.
3. Erect Barriers Where Possible
If you have an open-plan office, you need to look for ways to safeguard the health of your employees who will be using such spaces. It is important to note that workers will be a bit reluctant to return to the office if they discover that the environment is posing health risks.
Erecting barriers in open office spaces is one of the ways you can create cubicle-like separation between one worker and the next within your establishment. Where possible, you should create barriers in your office before resuming operations.
Additionally, assign one-way halls and aisles in the office. Place signages to make sure employees are aware of these new protocols.
4. Stock Your Office with Adequate Supplies
Personal hygiene and maintaining a clean environment will become buzzwords as offices reopen. That means that providing your workers with hand sanitizers, tissue, and no-touch disposal receptacles will be necessary.
Even face masks should be available for both employee and customer use. Place these essential supplies strategically within your office, shared areas, or even beside vending machines. Display signages throughout the office and not only inside restrooms.
These reminders will prompt staff to wash their hands stringently or apply hand sanitizer every time they come in contact with commonplaces. Remember, including posters next to such items will promote good hygiene habits in-house.
Suppose personal hygiene supplies and toiletries may be in high demand by the time you reopen your office. In that case, placing orders for necessary office supplies in advance will be prudent.
5. Reorganize Meal Times
Open common spaces can cause overcrowding, which is why you need to rethink meal times as office activities resume. If a company-run cafeteria is available within your entity, you can control the opening hours and limit the number of people accessing the facility at any one time.
Likewise, ensure the cafeteria has available stocks of single-use plates, drinking cups, spoons, and forks. Consider opting for pre-packaged foods or encouraging as many employees as possible to carry food from home. Alternatively, you can plan for food catering or delivery to prevent workers from frequenting public eating outlets during meal times when your office reopens.
Marking your office cafeteria’s floor with lanes and quadrants to keep your employees safe is worth considering, too. If possible, calculate the square footage of your office and establish six-foot distancing signs on the floor with the help of a tape. Reducing chairs in the break area or placing signs like ‘Don’t sit here’ in some seats will see to it employees will keep their distance.
Staggering office meal breaks as a way of minimizing physical contact between employees may be necessary, too.
6. Determine What Is Best for Your Organization
Covering for any losses and reviewing set targets may be a priority as you return to the office, but that should not be at the expense of the wellbeing of your workers. Remember that your employees are an essential resource, and protecting them is part of your responsibilities. So, even as you consider how you will recover lost time when you reopen your office, you need to involve your employees, too.
Ask your workers how you can improve the workplace environment to enhance their productivity. The input of your employees and implementing the same will affect your bottom line. The reason is that your workers are part of the determinants of what is best for your enterprise as you reopen your office.
Of course, there will be no guarantees. However, reassure your employees that the company will see to it that the organization will be workplace safe. As such, also reiterate to employees that they need to stay at home when they’re sick. Doing so is vital to the total health of the company.
Now is not the time to get into the rush of reopening your office, but planning how you will go about this process with extra caution. The future of your office operations depends on the decisions you make now and the impact they will have on your employees.
Also, before implementing your return to the office strategy, you will need to review all relevant factors that will inform your decision-making process. In case your company is renting space, also work with your landlord about the routine cleaning of common areas such as stairs, the reception area, restrooms, and elevators.
The desire of every individual right now is for normal operations to resume as soon as possible, including the reopening of various offices. However, that will not be possible if you do not take the necessary precautions from the onset.
The best practices above can help you develop a workable return to office strategy, which addresses both your needs and those of your workers. Currently, it may not be clear how long it will take for businesses to recover, but you can fast track that process if you adopt the best practices above.
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