The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on everyone, yet with more of the population vaccinated every week, governments and companies alike are starting to think about the post-pandemic future.
Two of the most pressing considerations are ‘when’ and ‘how’ to reopen your business. For business leaders, there are no clear-cut answers to these questions. Every organization is different, so responses to reopening must be tailored to particular circumstances.
That said, there are major areas of concern that are on everyone’s minds. Follow these tips to come up with a reopening plan that will work for your office.
1. Get employee feedback
Before you reopen, it can help to know how your employees feel about it. While some employees may be eager to return to the office, others may feel hesitant. They may have safety concerns or prefer the flexibility of working at home.
In other words, reopening may be a logistics puzzle, but it’s also a human resources issue. Reopening too soon and in the wrong way can affect morale, so make sure to get feedback before you commit to any decisions. Get the ball rolling by sending a survey to employees about their preferences and attitudes toward reopening.
2. Reconfigure your space for safety
Until enough people are vaccinated that the population reaches ‘herd immunity,’ there’s still a significant risk for transmitting COVID. So if you’re going to reopen your office, consider how the space is configured. Are workspaces arranged in ways that meet current CDC social distancing guidelines? Do you have adequate safety signage and sanitizing stations? Do you have a screening system for COVID symptoms, so that employees are less likely to transmit infections to others?
3. Consider reopening in ‘waves’
There’s no reason you have to reopen your office all at once. The timeline you choose should make sense for your company, regardless of what other businesses do. It may make sense for you to ease the transition into the post-pandemic future by bringing employees back in waves or in phases. In one scenario, you could start by asking the most essential workers to return first, and then increase the number of workers over time. In another scenario, you could implement a hybrid solution, during which all employees alternate between working at home and coming to the office. This way, everyone is in the office some of the time, but no one is in the office all the time.
4. Make the most of your current lease
It remains to be seen whether commercial real estate will be significantly impacted by the pandemic. However, many landlords have been offering amenities to keep valuable tenants in their buildings during the pandemic, so now is a good time to think ahead. Depending on how you plan to reopen, are you getting a good deal on rent? Does your current office space reflect your future plans and needs?
5. Reconfigure your office for flexibility
There’s no rule that that says your employees must return to the office. Plenty of companies operate successfully with remote workforces. If you’ve discovered that your business benefitted from a work-from-home model during the pandemic, consider making it a permanent part of your operations. If you do, your office still matters, but it could play a different role. Instead of having a permanent desk, employees would drop in and work at unassigned workstations. In this model, the workspaces could be treated as ‘first-come, first served’ (hot-desking) or as spaces that are reserved as needed (hoteling). If you decide to reimagine your office in this way, you’ll need a reconfiguration plan based on the number and types of workstations you anticipate needing.
6. Get professional help with reconfigurations
Whether you reconfigure now due to the end of the pandemic or in the future due to changes in your business, one thing is for sure: Get help from experts with all of the logistics: moving, installation, and storage. Professionals who know their way around commercial office spaces can save you many headaches.