Companies are now considering what to do on the other side of the coronavirus. Many company officials are trying to plan their next few years, and what that will look like with the structure of their employees. Will it be full time remote work, full time in the office, or a mix of the two?

There are a lot of considerations before a decision is made to return to the office full time.

Office Safety.

Whether government mandated or out of their own concern, companies will need to look at their current office environment and if it is safe for their employees or not. They will need to walk through the average day of an employee: entering and exiting the building, working at their desks, going to the water cooler or restroom, and navigating through different floors of their building.

  • What are the touch points, and what can be eliminated?
  • What if hiring an elevator employee or doorman to limit who contacts the doors and buttons could be used to reduce the number of surfaces an employee must touch?
  • Or someone to deliver drinks and snacks with online prepay options to limit the vending machine usage and coffee pot visits?

There are also other points to consider, such as ventilation and spacing between desks.

  • If workers come in on rotating schedules, could the same desks be sanitized in the off hours by the janitorial staff, but kept further apart for safe social distancing?

There is a lot to consider, and it can’t be analyzed well overnight, but officers within a company should take the time to evaluate how to keep employees safe through a myriad of events.

  • Price Points. This is a great opportunity for companies to consider what they are paying for, and what is valuable as a “must have”, compared to “nice to haves
    • They may find a hybrid working model that suits their employees (more on that later), and therefore, may not need the office space they anticipated five years ago when the lease was signed.
    • Companies also need to consider the costs and benefits of a combination of working remotely, working in the office, or a coworking space off campus.
      • This includes everything from office perks, such as free coffee, snacks or pastries, to utilities such as water usage, air conditioning, and electricity. These are all factors useful towards a decision of how work will look in the next few years, but aren’t the only considerations.
  • Emotional Well Being of Workers. How your employees feel while they’re working is a big factor, I’d say. You want energized employees, who even if they’re having a bad day, look forward to the challenges of their jobs and want to rise to those challenges.
    • If working in one place versus another is contributing towards a massive wave of emotional issues, that should be considered. Isolation at home is a really big issue, and can spiral into a plethora of other problems, such as alcoholism or severe depression.
    • Taking home situations into consideration is important, since a company is only as good as it’s employees.
      • Making sure employees still have emotional support and an outlet to connect with others is crucial to helping them maintain their mental health through their work environments.
  • Increased Training. If companies choose to employ their workers remotely, there should be an increase in training provided to a variety of departments. Workers need to understand the expectations with communications, whether remotely or in office, and any boundaries that should be in place.
    • One issue seen amongst remote workers is longer working hours, due to the pressure to feel “always on”.  This can lead to burnout very quickly, and it’s important for employees to know that is not the company expectation, and how they can voice their concerns if they feel the pressure is too much. 
    • Training can be amped up for Human Resources to learn how to navigate a mix of scenarios between remote and office work, as well as best practices for employees on how to plan for a productive day while working remotely. It’s an investment, but can really aid in getting the most out of workers.
  • Employee Feedback. The most valuable advice companies can consider before reevaluating if they should return to the office full time is how their employees feel about working remotely at home, as compared to the office. There may be a hybrid scenario that works best, allowing workers to come into the office a few days a week or a month for important meetings, team events, and camaraderie.
    • Many workers may run to the office with open arms, and highly value the structure an office environment can provide for them.
    • Different scenarios should be considered for the workers you have now and want to retain, instead of how other businesses are choosing to structure their work days. Employees want to feel heard and valued, and this is a great way to get their perspective on the future of your company.

One of the most important takeaways from the article, is that if you are a CEO or other official doing your research, good for you.

Being open and willing to look at different pieces and taking time to plan how it will all fit together is a great trait to have in leadership. The decision you make on how you want to structure your company is a big one, and considering different angles and perspectives is a great way to build up to such an important decision.

Categories: Leadership


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