With so much of your company's culture being built within the workplace, you might feel that you’ve lost out on hours worth of chance encounters and ideas around the kitchen table, so we know how much a lot of people want to jump back into their office not just for the social aspect but for the progression of the business.
If now is the time to start thinking about what your return to work may look like, you can find some advice on how to reintroduce your staff to the office below.
It is key to talk to your staff about how they feel about returning to the office
A good idea, and one that many companies are doing, is an anonymous survey to gain insights from their staff’s experiences and feelings about these past few months. This includes finding out more about their individual situations, such as current childcare and household set ups, asking how productive they think they have been working, concerns they have about returning to work and what would make them feel safer in the workplace. Kontor has done this with our staff, you can find the survey we used here... Remember that it is still advised to work from home as much as possible, so a lot of companies are focusing on a “Work From Home First” approach to keep their employees safe and keep their trust.
Reassess your office needs with updated headcount
Many companies are using this pause as an opportunity to reassess their needs as a business and to think about how much space they will need in the short to medium term. Maybe not everyone will be returning to the office or you have had to let go of some people, in which case you might need a smaller space. Or, if business has been booming and you haven’t let up on hiring, you may be on the hunt for a bigger space. In either case, we’d be happy to help you with these. One of our team is always available to chat on our live chat on this page.
Adapting your space to lower densities
By combining historically tight office space densities and new social distancing rules, you are likely to only fit 50% of your staff in the office. We would advise to start with a furniture rejig to comply with social distancing. The most common office desk is 100cm by 70cm - which means you should leave the desk either side and in front of a worker free. Using back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible. If you must have workers closer than that, invest in some acrylic screens between. Also, listen to your staff - is there something specific they would like to make them feel safer in the workplace? If you need more advice on this, we’d be happy to link you up with our partners who specialise in this area.
Phasing your staff’s return or rotating teams
If you are planning on phasing your staff’s return, our advice would be to start with the people who show an interest in coming into the office and reduce the number of people each person has contact with in the workplace by using ‘fixed teams or partnering’, so each person works with only a few others. You can also split your staff into teams; team A / B / C could come in every Monday / Wednesday / Friday respectively, with a clean in-between every working day. Or team A are in the office on Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday there is a clean and team B are in the office on Thursday and Friday.
With a limited number of desks, using an internal desk booking system can increase your office capacity. Desana gives companies control over how they do that - their super simple app takes away all the human management and the risk of people showing up for a desk that they can't access. It's free to use the functionality to manage your own office and staff can book usable space in a drop in basis. Drop us a note if you would like an intro to their founder.
Acquiring satellite offices across your city
Some of your staff live in the East, some in the West, your clients are in the North and your office is in the South - what’s a business to do? Well, if you are facing this dilemma, you could acquire some smaller satellite offices across your city to act as bases for staff that cut commute times, and crucially meet with clients, who need some face time.
Conduct a Workplace Risk Assessment
The government suggests companies conduct a risk assessment of their current workplace, incl. the threat of COVID transmission before your wider workforce returns to the office. You can find all the information you need on the Government Website (UK). You may find that you need to make some changes to your regular way of working including adding signage to your office to remind staff of your specific guidelines and to direct the flow of traffic through tighter areas.
Do the prep and communicate it to your team
Show what you have done to your office to keep your workers safe, this will build the trust between you and your employees. The more you communicate your thought process and prepare, the more trust you will likely build and your staff will likely feel safer coming in..
Not sure your current office is still the right place for your company? Talk to us and we can help you assess your space - think about it as counselling between your company and your office.
Also, if you have any more tips you would like to share? Drop us a line.