Pre-COVID-19 workplace policies won’t be enough to support employees in a post-coronavirus world.The return to the office will be phased. And it’s going to be a huge adjustment for your people.
At the office, employees will need to work with PPE equipment, workplace distancing, and a range of other safety measures. And at home, they’ll continue to deal with an array of remote-work challenges while they get their work done.
COVID-19: RETURNING TO THE OFFICE CHECKLIST
To help you support employees and create a positive employee experience, here’s a look at some of the strategies being used to support employees during a Work From Home (WFH) / Work From Office (WFO) schedule.
“We want employees to be able to work where they feel most creative and productive. (Our employees) will be able to work from home permanently, even once offices begin to reopen.”— Media Spokesperson, Square
You’ll need to introduce new policies that help employees do their best work in their WFH and office environments
Here are some of the policies companies are introducing to help their people navigate this new normal.
While Facebook, Twitter, Square, and Microsoft are keeping their physical facilities open and operational, they’re also embracing remote work flexibility for employees.
Even if you can’t offer WFH as a long-term solution for your people, remember that not all employees will be ready to work in the office once it’s permitted to do so, for a variety of reasons.
Treat each employee with empathy and give employees the option to continue to work remotely if they want to, no matter their reasoning.
Dropbox was quick to encourage the use of PTO. They also scheduled a company-wide day off to give employees time to take care of themselves.
SCHEDULE YOUR OFFICESPACE DEMO
A common return to work strategy that’s emerging is the idea of bringing people back to the office in shifts.
Some of the scheduling strategies we’ve seen for bringing people back to the office include:
If you return employees to the office in shifts, remember to test and adapt your strategy as COVID-19 guidelines evolve.
— Jeffrey Goldman, COO, BeyondHQ
Now more than ever, employees want to be part of the discussion. Help your people stay safe, calm, and informed by using every opportunity to communicate your COVID-19 safety measures.
COVID-19 guidelines are changing frequently, so make sure you provide updates on a regular basis. Create a schedule of virtual meetings to ensure everyone is being looped in on updates, expectations, and next steps.
Adding directional arrows, maximum room capacity, and the location of hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies to your floor plan is another opportunity to communicate your commitment to employee health and safety.
Make sure your guidelines are easily accessible. Slack, email, and internal wikis are a great place to disseminate and store workplace documentation.
One-on-one meetings and pulse check surveys are a great way to gather feedback on your COVID-19 workplace strategies, and assess how your people are faring. COO of BeyondHQ, Jeffrey Goldman, even suggests that having an ongoing, transparent dialogue with your employees can be a great way to gather strategies and guidelines that work well for your people.
“I think the return to the workplace is going to be pretty jarring, just because of the way we’re going to have to return.”
— Kate Lister, President, Global Workplace Analytics, Why The Future of Work is WFH
Returning to the workplace will be jarring in more ways than one. Once employees arrive, new floor plan layouts, traffic flow directions, seating changes, and enhanced safety measures will be disorienting.
Here’s how companies are preparing their people for this transition.
Help employees familiarize themselves with facility changes before they return to the office. A tool like Visual Directory® can help you communicate your floor plan updates and seating changes in real-time on any device. Even a simple PDF facility map is better than nothing.
Increased signage in your office, like directional arrows and instructions on where to find sanitizing stations and cleaning supplies, can help to subtly remind your people that employee safety is a top priority.
“When we do decide to open offices, it also won’t be a snap back to the way it was before. It will be careful, intentional, office by office and gradual.”
— Jack Dorsey, CEO, Twitter, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Tells Employees They Can Work From Home ‘Forever’
It’s common for remote employees to feel left out and often sidelined. Now more than ever, you’ll need to work hard to preserve your employee experience and keep employees connected while everyone’s juggling time at the office and WFH.
Ask leaders to schedule one-on-one meetings with each of their team members, to give individual employees the opportunity to address personal concerns in private and maintain a sense of connection.
Cubeiq and PubMatic employees meet regularly for virtual workout classes. Engine Group started an optional meditation session [email protected] Momentum Worldwide provided access to remote mindfulness, nutrition and fitness experts to support employees.
Whether it’s a happy hour, lunch and learn, or an online fitness or mindfulness session, virtual gatherings are a great way to keep employees connected.
“Unfortunately, technologies are emerging for what I call “Virtual Babysitting”. Apps that track keystrokes, programs that require employees to check in every hour or stay on video 24/7. Total micromanagement by technology. I hope that we all learn to manage remote employees by results before that technology takes hold.”
— Kate Lister, President, Global Workplace Analytics
According to telecommuting expert Kate Lister, not having the right tools in place is one of the most common reasons companies struggle with remote-work.
“Things like knowing how to run a Zoom meeting, knowing how to collaborate with someone virtually, learning how to use Google Docs or Microsoft Teams or Slack.”
Use a tool like Google Surveys (free) or Typeform to run a basic company wide survey and make sure every single WFH employee has what they need to do their best work from home.
Ask questions like:
Shopify gave its employees $1,000 to furnish their work-from-home setups with whatever gear they need because of the coronavirus. If you don’t have the budget to follow suit, consider loaning out office equipment to WFH employees.
You can allow remote employees to submit equipment requests in a tool like Request Manager. If you do loan equipment out, track it with asset tagging to make sure it gets returned to the office when it’s no longer needed.
If you need more information on supporting WFH and WFO employees as you adapt your workplace in the coronavirus pandemic? Here are three of the most comprehensive resources available.
Photo Credits: cottonbro, Anna Shvets, OSS, Gustavo Fring, Luke Peters