5 Things to Do Before Welcoming Employees Back into the Office

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Many companies are welcoming employees back into the office, but there’s much to do before anyone steps foot back into the workplace. As a leader or an HR manager, it’s important to have a comprehensive plan in place before welcoming your team back.

As you develop your company’s plan, communicate goals and initiatives with transparency to ensure everyone has a clear sense of what to expect, and then take action. Use these ideas as a starting place to ensure your office is ready for employees and everyone feels safe coming back.

1. Listen and Delegate

Before you make any big decisions, go right to the source: your employees. Don’t make a best guess on what they value or want from leadership right now; rather, ask them directly whether they want you to speak to them individually or send out polls and surveys. By leveraging their insight and feedback, you can develop a plan that specifically addresses their needs and the needs of the company as a whole.

Consider creating a COVID-19 response task force to help take on these responsibilities and prepare for future emergencies. In addition to using internal resources, don’t be afraid to delegate noncore activities to third-party resources to help HR and leadership teams reprioritize focus and time on keeping employees safe.

2. Develop Cleaning Routines and Procedures

Developing an ongoing sanitation schedule should be central to your plan for bringing people back into the office. In an April 2020 office cleaning survey of business owners and upper-level management, 83% of respondents noted an increased focus and investment in cleaning, with 34% using both professional and janitorial services to get the job done.

In addition, creating personal sanitation and cleaning resource stations in high-traffic areas or near desk spaces is a simple way to empower employees to manage their own environment. In relying on that autonomy, HR management can focus on officewide sanitation and general practices.

3. Adjust the Office Layout and Traffic Flow

In an effort to maintain proper social distancing practices, many offices are looking to restructure their layout to allow for 6 feet of space between employees’ desks. While the “open office” concept may be conducive to increasing collaboration between departments, it often leaves individuals within close distances of one another, so addressing this first and foremost is critical. McKinsey suggests how businesses can plan this:

“Organizations could create workspaces specifically designed to support the kinds of interactions that cannot happen remotely. If the primary purpose of an organization’s space is to accommodate specific moments of collaboration rather than individual work, for example, should 80 percent of the office be devoted to collaboration rooms? Should organizations ask all employees who work in cubicles, and rarely have to attend group meetings, to work from homes? If office space is needed only for those who cannot do so, are working spaces close to where employees live a better solution?”

This might require you to go back to the drawing board to redesign how the space functions. In doing so, however, you keep everyone safe and provide much-needed peace of mind…

Source: HR Daily Advisor

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