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The New Normal: A Guide for Returning to the Workplace Post Covid-19

Introduction

The Coronavirus has altered reality for many businesses around the world. Without question, the long-term impacts are being unveiled daily. This guide will explore this transformative new normal.

Four months ago many companies around the world were forced into a hundred percent work -from-home model. These drastic orders were implemented as a means to protect employees and flatten the curve of Covid-19. Companies had to respond quickly, many without the ability to ensure their employees were equipped with the proper materials to have an efficient home workstation. It was one of the most uncertain times in modern history. Offices closed indefinitely and without notice.

Those companies who were able to pivot with the crisis found new and interesting ways to maximize time and utilize assets. Online video communication tools, such as zoom, became a lifeline for keeping teams engaged. Interestingly, many companies were able to realize a significant cut in costs by having more staff work from home.
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Though there have been wonderfully surprising benefits from this new working environment, research suggests that 70% of employees prefer to work out of the office instead of home. In fact, many employees deemed working from the office an essential part of their job. Employees felt their interactions with colleagues inspired authentic collaboration, increased productivity, and helped them stay more connected with their teams.

As CEOs are beginning to grapple with how to bring their staff back into the office safely, it is important to develop a plan that ensures the safety and well being of all involved. One of the reasons employees prefer working out of the office is the ergonomically designed workstations. These office models encourage focus and stimulate productivity without the distractions a remote working experience can bring.

This is where we at inspace come into play. As the first employee-centric UX for finding and booking office workstations, we provide our clients with a unique transition back into the physical working space. We want to help companies make safe paths for re-entry into their offices.

This guide will supply you with concrete solutions to organize the workplace, data from available research, and tools to implement into your own business. Our goal is to help you coordinate your people, work spaces and a clear understanding of what it will take to implement your plan. You will leave ready to walk into your new normal equipped with knowledge on how to best move you and your company forward safely and efficiently.

Welcome to the new reality!
Returning to Work Safely

Governments across the globe are lifting shelter in place orders once implemented in an effort to fight the spread of COVID-19. Businesses are eager to re-open their physical doors for employees and patrons alike. At the same time, both governments and businesses are seeking the safest re-entry method to keep everyone protected from further outbreaks.

Problems

Returning to the workplace after months and sometimes years carries its own set of challenges. One major issue is continuing to comply with the standard for social distancing guidelines. Some research reflects not all social distancing practices will be met with current office structures. As a result, CEOs have to ensure the re-entry transition is managed strategically and according to CDC guidelines.

Below we will take a look at various pre-Covid 19 workplaces and list reasons your company might be in need of the inspace we have to offer.

  • Your current office space is limited. Achieving adequate social distance guidelines will be difficult to obtain.

  • Your offices has a fixed desk system with open office layouts

  • Your office does not have a system to monitor the realtime number of people in your office at a given time.

  • Your employees prefer to work on a flexible schedule, utilizing office space a few days a week for meetings and calls. The rest of the week the space is unused.

  • Your company suffered mass layoffs during COVID-19, now there is a need to optimize unused office space.

  • Your company lacks a road map and plan of action to facilitate a comprehensible return-to-work strategy.

  • You desire for your employees and staff to feel safe during the post COVID-19 return. You value the health of all involved and want to ensure your company is known for the lengths it went to make sure all precautionary measures were pursued to prevent spreading disease.
Building trust

Preparing to reopen the doors of your office is about ensuring your employees and staff feel as safe as possible. This will require all proactive measures to protect you and your team. It is essential to be fully transparent when communicating the new guidelines in an effort to establish increased confidence in the company and management.

Maintaining clean surfaces and equipment, such as keyboards and telephones, is a key part of the World Health Organization's advice for employers - especially in an office environment where office equipment will be shared. Offices must be deep cleaned regularly. In addition, it is important for employers to require any employees or staff expressing COVID-like symptoms to stay home.

Some companies will choose to implement the fresh connect solution in order to trace an infected employee more easily. The technology our company provides allows us to track the virus based on the employees actual location in the office. The information allows employers to track what locations employees have entered within the office. This is particularly vital if someone reports feeling ill or begins to show Covid-19 symptoms. We are able to easily identify potential employee exposure based on the foot traffic of the infected individual.
    Extending Remote Working

    Though businesses around the world are re-opening their offices, we are also seeing a rise in companies opting to extend the remote working option for their employees. Companies like Twitter and Facebook have declared, indefinitely, their doors will not re-open.

    Studies have shown that many employees prefer flexible and/or remote working models. These models greatly benefit the employee. This reduces commuting costs - which aids in decreasing pollution. Other benefits for employees can be an increased time with family and more control over personal time.

    However, the impacts of remote working for the employer varies. For some companies it means a lower workspace density, which could result in money saved on rent. This savings affords companies opportunities to redirect funds saved on real estate for a new workspace design. For others it means a lack of resources for tasks needed to be accomplished hands on. Our job at fresh connect is to aid clients with reimagining how to best utilize office space. Although remote working is suitable for some employees, there still remains a steadfast need for the physical office space.

    The opportunities businesses have post COVID-19, in both maximizing space and density, will result in a need for dynamic utilization of the available space, facilitated by desk reservation and new technology, like fresh connect. We believe offices will increasingly become places primarily for collaboration and meeting clients, rather than a place to achieve normal workday activities. We are ready to assist in the smooth transition of smarter space usage.
      Real-time office usage report

      One of our fresh connect stand out features is our ability to produce a real-time office usage report. This is a report that provides a clear, transparent opportunity for employees to locate their physical working location prior to their arrival.

      We have developed our improved technology integration software which allows our clients to manage their corporate real estate and workforce.

      Often, in coworking spaces, employees arrive at the office and spend the first half hour of their workday looking for a place to work. Our system offers companies and employees the ability to avoid overcrowded workspaces.
        3 STEP PLAN

        Adhering to appropriate COVID-19 health and safety guidelines is critical for returning to physical office locations. Complying with the relevant regulations for your company is a task that requires careful consideration. Successful execution stands to yield positive benefits for both your business and employees.

        As your workforce returns be prepared for new challenges that require an open mind to arrive at a solution. It is important to remain flexible during the reopening phases.

        We have identified three key phases companies should consider upon re-opening.
          Short-term considerations

          Phase 1 begins before your employees return to the office. During this phase your office is prepared for humans to occupy the space. It includes, but not limited to:

          • Deep cleaning

          • Eliminate hotspot areas (i.e, kiosks, atms, community kitchens)

          • Create new sanitary guidelines for the office

          • Update sick leave policies

          • Create COVID-19 waivers and policies requiring employees to stay home if they show any symptoms

          • Implement booking solution like inspace

          • Develop re-entry training to help employees understand new guidelines and procedures
            Medium-term considerations

            Phase 2 welcomes employees back into the workplace. It helps navigate the transition process. It includes, but not limited to:

            • Provide your employees with personal protective equipment (PPE)

            • Enforce social distancing policies

            • Update employee emergency contact information

            • Build employee trust - be consistent and implement new policies and changes

            • Communicate expectations effectively and clearly
              Long-term considerations

              Phase 3 involves any ongoing needs that arise after re-entry

              • Extend flexible & remote working options as needed
              • Address employee work preferences individually and not on a systematic basis
              • Provide universal access to location information
              • Ongoing re-configurations of office space to comply with CDC guidelines
              • Checkin and measure results both with employees and staff.
              • Keep track of the success and practicality of implemented strategies
                Get back to work safely with inspace!

                Our team of experts at inspace are here to help you and your business adapt to the new normal. Whether through our mobile app or booking a free consultation with our team of experts, we are here to assist you in taking your office space to the next level.
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