After more than a year of working from home because of the coronavirus pandemic, businesses are starting to welcome back their employees. Yes, it’s time. The offices are once more alive with signs of life. The desks that have collected dust will finally be used again. These buildings looked like ghost towns months before. But as the world slowly transitions to the new normal (thanks to vaccines), businesses are also now trying to make sense of what kind of year they’ve been through. But also, they can’t wait to welcome back their employees.
Wait a minute, how sure are you that your office is up to the task of welcoming back employees? Is the equipment ready? Do you have the space for more functional but distanced working arrangements?
Organize a General Cleanup
Call a commercial office cleaning company and make sure to have the office thoroughly cleaned. Chances are that you have only been there a few times since the pandemic. Dust might have settled on the carpets and the desks. Make sure to choose a professional cleaner that knows exactly what has to be done. Aside from general cleaning, they also have to sanitize the surfaces, clean or change the air filters, and change chair covers, etc.
You are not only protecting your employees from COVID-19, but you’re also protecting them from allergens, toxic materials, and possible respiratory problems. Making sure that the place is thoroughly cleaned should be your priority. Your employees will expect nothing less from you.
Send a Welcome-back Email
Think of this as onboarding your employees again. You haven’t seen each other personally for months, so why not send an email welcoming everyone back to the office? Take this opportunity to also remind them of office policies and safety standards. What are the new policies you’ve created because of the pandemic? Is everyone on board with these policies? What if some of them are still uncomfortable with the thought of coming back to the office? Extend your hand to these employees and find a compromise.
In any case, the email is a nice reminder that things are hopefully coming back to normal or the new normal. It’s also an opportunity to explain policies and standards such as testing, tracing, sanitizing, distancing, and more. Take time to explain the process, as well as why it is necessary.
Set the Working Hours
What kind of schedule can your employees expect when they come back to the office? Will they stay there from 9 AM to 5 PM? Are you going to allow them to come in as they please as long as they finish their work? For example, some of them may want to come in only three times a week or the morning because they want to avoid the rush hour and come into close contact with strangers in the subway. Others may want to come back for the traditional 9-5 routine because they are so distracted at home.
Ask everyone about their opinion on their working hours. Who wants to stay until late in the afternoon in the office? Who doesn’t want to come in every day? This is the new normal, after all. Everyone deserves to be heard especially when it is about coming back to the office and mingling with others.
Talk About the Vaccination
Some employers are requiring their employees to get vaccinated before they can go back to the office. Is this going to be your policy, too? Discuss this with your employees. If some of them are still unvaccinated, they may want to defer going to the office for now. The office is a far safer place if everyone there is vaccinated. It is a policy that will be for everyone’s safety and security.
Investing in Equipment, Layout, Tools, Etc.
Your office should have a more open-space layout to improve social distancing. Even among the vaccinated population, distancing is being pushed by medical experts. This will prevent any transmission of new variants and strains that could potentially be more contagious than the original variant. However, remember that your employees still need collaborative spaces, so private meeting rooms should be available for them.
The other equipment that your office needs are no-touch devices that can check your temperature, spray alcohol on your hands, open and close the doors, and dispense soap or even a hand towel. These devices will reduce shared touchpoints in an office. They will also make your employees feel safer and more secure.
There will be a lot of changes when employees begin returning to the office. That shouldn’t be shocking considering what businesses and people have to go through because of the pandemic. Just make sure you, the office, and everyone else are ready for these changes.