Restrictions are starting to loosen down in many areas, which means that a lot of businesses will be looking to have some of their staff make a return to the office. However, given that we are far from done with the COVID-19 pandemic, you will have staff that might not feel comfortable or safe returning to the office, especially if things are going to operate much as they did before the pandemic started. So, what can you do to help them feel more comfortable with the return?
Keep it clean on the regular
Your number one concern should be helping your employees feel safe and confident in the workplace. If the workplace itself isn’t looking overly safe or clean, then why should they feel like they are being cared for or protected? Take the time to keep the office clean, even if it means having to work with professional cleaners. You’re going to need to invest more energy, time, and maybe even money to maintaining a higher standard of cleanliness than you would have before the pandemic.
Be flexible with the return
A lot of people have found that working from home is not only more convenient, but it can even be more productive and efficient, as well. As such, you should consider offering hybrid work options, such as letting people spend half their days from home or only bringing back those who are most needed in the office environment. Given that there is the potential for the pandemic to surge in the number of cases, you never know when you might have to back to a work-from-home paradigm, meaning that you shouldn’t invest all of your efforts into getting everyone back in the office again permanently, just yet.
Enforce anti-spreading rules
You might not think anyone in your office is going to spread COVID-19, but your employees aren’t going to feel safe unless you enforce rules to make sure that they don’t. Whether you require masks in the workplace is your own choice, but you should make sure that people wash their hands regularly, even by installing a hand sanitizer station at the entrance or by bathroom doors and the like. Consider a set of COVID-19 rules you might have to adapt and ensure that they are enforced without exceptions.
Consider distancing the workplace
People may not be comfortable with the idea of returning to wall-to-wall cubicles or open offices where they share desks with multiple people. Keeping in line with the idea that you might only want to bring back a selection of your team, you should also consider restructuring the office to allow for more space between every individual, in keeping with social distancing advice. Six feet of space between each person is fast becoming the norm in open offices.
If you’re managing a return to the office, but sure to understand that there is every chance you have to accommodate to a new normal. Even if you personally don’t agree with people’s need for that additional security, members of your team will demand it.