The New Normal: A guide to returning to the office post COVID-19

No matter what position or strategy leaders decide to take when it comes to reopening offices, whether it be implementing a hybrid workplace model or attempting to bring all employees back to the office, navigating how to get people back in the office is one of the hardest business disputes of our time.

The end goal is, keep employees safe and healthy while the business continues to run smoothly. But that’s way easier said than done and some questions leaders may be asking themselves are, How do I keep the office safe? Who do I bring back into the office first? When should employees be coming back? What can I do to help employees transition into this new normal with ease? Throughout this last year, the use of disruptive technology has become the new normal and it’s important for companies to continue to utilize technology that will help them adapt to the current situation.

With this short guide or roadmap, leaders should have better ideas on where to start and how to put a ‘new normal’ strategy into place.

1. Remember, certain factors are outside your control.

2. Leaders can plan for a smooth return-to-office transition, however, it might not always be as smooth as planned. It might be harder for some employees to head back to the workplace just yet, this could be due to health risk reasons etcetera. So it’s important to factor in the fact that the transition might happen in groups of people coming back rather than all at once.

3. Work on your employee work scheduling system

4. A company's strategy for getting people back to the office would be a very employee-based approach. Implementing a system that helps employees manage their workspace, will allow them to stay safe and healthy. Using apps such as inspace can help you use office space more efficiently. Employees can use different spaces of the office as needed in a coordinated manner, therefore, keeping each other safe.

5. Prepare protocols and policies

6. As groups of employees start to head back into the office and a strategy is put into place in terms of a workspace scheduling system. Leaders need to have certain policies and protocols in place. These policies can include clean workspace rules, new policies on sick days, policies for shared workspaces. If the company decides to implement a more hybrid workplace model at first, there should be policies put into place regarding remote and in-office work.

7. Implement new technologies and contact-tracing strategies

8. In this truly disruptive time, technologies have been developed and perfected to help offices and schools be as safe as can be. Building technologies can include smart lighting, touchless surfaces, touchless elevators etcetera. Another important strategy to implement is the use of contact-tracing methods or tools, methods can include having health screenings at the door or using the inspace contact screening tool

9. Continue to develop and build trust

Once you’ve got your game plan all set and the new normal is in place, it’s important to do frequent ‘check-ins’ with employees, a way to do this is by implementing an employee assistance program. See what’s working and what’s not. It’s all about keeping open communication and allowing what works best in the company's environment.

The most important factor of transitioning to the new normal in the workplace is to ensure the safety of employees. How companies decide to bring back their employees will have a lasting effect on the business culture and at inspace we are dedicated to helping offices integrate into a flexible workplace as effectively as possible.

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