And then the third key is about people. The positive impact of returning to the office hinges on participation from your people. You must find ways to effectively communicate, maintain accountability, and re-establish the office culture if you expect a successful return to work.
This will likely require the greatest degree of flexibility and agility: while some may welcome the return to work, others will likely be hesitant to return in the coming months and year. This must be kept at the forefront.
Many of you are surely doing this already, but it’s critical to keep an eye on what your people feel. They may have special circumstances, they may be ready and waiting to come back in, or they may be wary about the return to work.
According to a Global Workplace Analytics Survey, 77% of the surveyed workforce wants to work from home after COVID-19. Only 6% say they would not want to work from home in the future.
And how you respond to the situation and your employees’ needs can be very impactful. According to a survey by McKinsey, employees who say their organizations have responded particularly well during this time are four times more likely to be engaged and six times more likely to report a positive state of well-being.
Make sure, then, that you’re getting input from your employees about where they stand by conducting surveys on things like sentiment, productivity, and preferences. To this end, it’s important to take a personalized, human approach to answering these questions so you can understand your employees, build trust, foster culture, and enable meaningful change. Then, use that activity data to validate those preferences.
Ultimately, you can take this, corroborate the sentiment of your people through surveys, and apply that with the visibility and data that we talked about earlier.
Encourage Group Accountability
It’s all about accountability. You can put safety mechanisms and policies in place, but it won’t matter if you don’t also advocate for personal accountability. Here are a few ways to do that:
Digital Policy Reminders
Example of a daily policy reminder in Accruent’s EMS room and resource scheduling platform.
Consider putting policy reminders in critical paths for common employee workflows, like booking a room or workspace as you see here.
This can make safety a shared responsibility by visualizing accountability. Shown here is an example of terms and conditions that must be reviewed before a user can create a booking. Then, to follow on the heels of that, are digital reminders of the governance on space. Placing these bits of information in the critical path of common workflows will provide people with multiple touchpoints of both the policies and procedures.
Physical Policy Reminders
And then, of course, there are the physical reminders and signage, which can include:
- Visual reminders of social distancing
- Signage for mask use
- Availability of sanitizer in critical areas
- Wayfinding for one-way hallways and stairwells
These make it effortless to understand and abide by office best practices for safety. The best way to go about creating a layout plan may well be opening up a floorplan, taking a yardstick around the office and making notes for what should go where. You may also find your physical signage needs will change once people enter your space and behave differently than expected. The key is the be observant and open to feedback.
Be sure to reflect any changes you implement using physical measures digitally as well. For example, simply dropping a “out of service for social distancing” sign on a set of desks may seem simple but consider the implications: now, an employee will need to wander the office, taking time from their day and increasing their personal risk, in order to find a sign-free desk. Ideally, these kinds of physical indicators would also be reflected digitally in a booking solution, so each employee has the ability to know exactly where they should go when they arrive at work.
Rediscover the Office Culture
Your employees need to rediscover the office and the office culture. Certain amenities may need to be restricted at first, but you can find creative ways to use technology to control access and make it both safe and socially responsible.
Specifically, you can provide access to benefits and amenities that were previously in communal spaces by offering things like:
- Deskside foodservice
- Snacks/drinks/coffee moved from pinch points
- Sanitization materials as shared resources
You can also safely manage access to amenities by offering things like fitness center time slots or mother room bookings and sanitization.
Key Takeaways of the “Great Return to Work” Blog Series
The overarching key of all of this is flexibility and remaining agile as the situation continues to develop, leveraging technology to ensure that your people are safe, prepared and welcomed back into the office. This is accomplished by managing your space and gaining appropriate insights from data on how it is utilized.
Explore the Series:
- Key 1: Effectively Managing Your Space
- Key 2: Using Technology to Increase Visibility
- Key 3: Keep Your People at the Forefront
- Key 4: Rethink Your Real Estate