In welcoming back employees to your office space post-pandemic, the safety of those entering the front doors should be your primary focus. As a leader in your organization, have you developed a comprehensive plan to address your team’s peace of mind? If not, now is the perfect time to get started.
The approach we choose to take now is an outward reflection of our values. Consider forming a committee or team dedicated to gathering feedback from employees on what initiatives or programs would help them feel most safe. Leveraging both this information and recommendations from health experts, develop your final plan, taking into consideration each of these important best practices.
1. Communicate Early And Often
In a recent study conducted by Edelman, an international PR firm, it was found that 63 percent of respondents believed and sought information about the COVID-19 virus from their employer, while 58 percent trusted government communication and 51 percent relied on traditional media.
In short, this data clearly shows that your voice as a leader within your company matters. Employees look to their organization for (and expect) accurate information, resources, and strategies to address the pandemic. By communicating initiatives early and often, you provide a layer of security and support for your team amid uncertainty.
2. Use Digital Resources
With a variety of video conferencing and digital collaboration tools at our disposal, consider creating a strategy that involves both an in-person and digital workforce. Not only does working remotely allow for better social distancing, but it opens the doors to a more inclusive and personalized work environment.
Done correctly, this approach can shift focus away from hours spent in the office to placing more value on a person’s accomplishments and outcomes. Allowing employees to balance their time between an office and home can dramatically improve productivity while addressing concerns of conference room capacity and safety.
3. Create Safe Environments
Regular sanitization and cleaning practices are one of the best ways to protect the general health of employees. While many organizations already utilize a janitorial service to address basic needs, consider partnering with a commercial cleaning company to ensure your space is safe and undergoes consistent deep-cleaning.
In a survey of business owners and upper-level management with companies of 500+ employees, 46 percent of respondents intend to continue deep cleaning their office space while COVID-19 is a thread, while 14 percent will implement these practices indefinitely.
4. Establish Office Pathways And Room Capacities
Analyzing your space and how employees interact with it is a key part of establishing a safe environment. Defining your company’s in-office user pathways is typically the result of answering these three questions:
- Where are people in our building?
- Where do they need to go to accomplish their work?
- How do they get there?
By mapping the answers to each of these questions to an office layout, we can identify zones that might have too much or high traffic and should be adjusted to meet social distancing best practices. Solutions for each of these vulnerable areas could include establishing one-way traffic hallways, rearranging seating to allow for distance, or setting maximum room capacities.
5. Act With Empathy
Above all else, our actions should be guided by a genuine concern for employee safety. No one was prepared to guide a company through a global pandemic, but showing empathy toward the uncertainty that others may feel is key.
Our approach should be flexible, as we accept that our initial plan may pivot due to new research, employee sentiment, or company needs. Continually listening, gathering new information, and adjusting accordingly will help establish a healthy communication loop between leadership and employees and become the foundation for addressing safety within the office.
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