by Emma Williams
The Coronavirus has affected just about everyone across the globe. Now it’s time to figure out how to piece together a normal life and how that impacts a safe return to work. In this article we share some strategies to help your workforce return to the office successfully and safely.
#1: Use Efficient Time Management Strategies
For large organizations that used to house hundreds or even thousands of employees in the same space, efficient time management is going to be crucial in life after COVID. Time-sharing strategies could help reduce the number of staff members in one place at one time. Splitting up the daily workforce into shifts and allowing those night owls to get their work done after “regular hours” might be a solid solution to enforcing social distancing.
As many businesses have discovered, having a fully remote workforce didn’t result in disaster. In fact, in many cases, companies reported increased engagement and productivity from employees who used to be in-house staff. Consider offering long-term remote contracts to those employees who shone brightly during this forced work-at-home environment.
#2: Have An Interactive Office Plan
Employees who feel empowered work harder and are more committed than those who are frustrated and disengaged. As part of your company’s safe return to work plan, you need to consider how things were before COVID and how you want them to be post-COVID. An interactive office plan benefits an employer in many ways, especially by increasing their employees’ happiness factor.
An interactive office plan will allow employers to comply with state and federal social distancing guidelines as well as keep on top of how the office is laid out, who is assigned to what workstation, and when any changes are made. There are dozens of software options designed to create interactive office plans that can be updated on the fly. Allowing your staff to be part of the decision making, will give them a sense of purpose and more satisfaction while also helping them to feel safe at work.
#3: Create a Dynamic Layout
Software designed to create a more interactive environment for your floor space, can also help with social distancing and limiting the number of bodies in certain areas. Planning may also include protective barriers and repositioning furniture, workstations, and collectively used equipment such as heavy-duty copiers. You may also need to direct the flow of foot traffic going in one direction. Using interactive screens on the walls can help guide employees where they need to go. When necessary, you can change the flow as required using software. You won’t need to affix stickers to the floor and then remove them to redirect.
#4: Utilize Workplace by Facebook
Another excellent resource for your whole team is, Workplace by Facebook. A lot of new technology evolved during the pandemic to help teams stay in touch and stay on task. One such program created by Facebook is called Workplace. It includes features like video chat, posts, commenting, and groups so you can split teams into smaller rooms for focused discussions.
Businesses can pay a fee per employee to set up a private meeting where all staff members can collaborate and communicate on work-related issues. The Standard version is free, but the Premium version with all the bells and whistles costs $3 per user, per month. The Premium version allows users to sign on with a single click, it offers APIs to integrate with other software, and you can even monitor employee usage. The paid subscription offers unlimited file storage integration, analytics, and even a mobile app.
#5: Smart Meeting Rooms
Even before COVID, organizations were adopting new technologies like smart meeting rooms that combine hardware and software to allow members from around the globe to effortlessly collaborate, share resources and screens, and communicate effortlessly. As part of your return to work plan, even if some of your staff reside in the office, it may make sense to continue remote meetings using smart technology, keeping everyone connected but safe.
A smart meeting room typically includes:
- Video conferencing hardware (cameras) and software
- Whiteboard tools and resources for markup
- Analytics and metrics
#6: New Technology to Organize the Workplace
There are so many great new technologies out there that can enhance your workplace and boost the organization. Things like cloud storage, so everyone can access the same files from everywhere is a big one. Cloud storage also provides off-site backups and declutters your desks and file cabinets. Collaboration tools like Slack, Asana, Zoom, and Facebook’s Workplace, help teams stay connected even when they are spread across the globe. Apps for secure messaging, virtual assistants, and shared interactive calendars can help management and staff stay on the same page.
Using project management software can really make an impact on task and goal-oriented projects for teams. Especially during this time of a dispersed workforce, these programs keep an eye on workflow and help guarantee success. Some of this technology can even keep your network and building secure, provide IT administration and management to monitor staff and improve the overall efficiency of all your operations.
#7: Use Fixed Assets as Efficiently as Possible
Fixed assets could become an issue as the workforce returns to the office. Policies for shared resources like copiers, lunchrooms, and even bathrooms may have to change to keep things safe. You may need to limit how many staff can use something like the elevator or stairway at a time. Sanitation is another issue to consider. Finding ways to use fixed assets as efficiently as possible will help foster trust with your employees and give them a sense of comfort and safety while at work.
All this change is not necessarily a bad thing. You may find that new, more innovative ways of doing things enhances employee satisfaction and pads your bottom line at the same time.