North East Connected

How to prepare for the big return to the office

As the government’s roadmap out of lockdown puts us back in a state of normalcy by June 21, you’re probably thinking about the best way to get you and your employees back into the office. However, it’s been reported that 57.9% of UK workers are concerned about returning to work, citing cleanliness and Covid-related security as reasons behind their fear.

But there are things you can do, as an employer, to make the transition as easy and safe as possible for your team. Here, we’ve outlined some things to consider to help you be as prepared as possible.

Create a Covid safety plan

It stands to reason that you won’t be able to return to the office ‘business as usual’. While you may not be required to enforce full social distancing measures of two metres, the government has outlined that one metre with added risk mitigation is acceptable for businesses, including ensuring employees are working side by side as opposed to face-to-face. Think carefully about how much space each employee has around their desk and how best to maximise this. Reconsider the layout of your office and accept that you may need to add more desks to accommodate for the additional required space.

As we’ve all gotten used to being distanced, you may want to limit the number of people allowed in elevators at any given time, or even stop the use of them altogether if this is possible. Reducing or eliminating hot desking can also work to stop any unnecessary moving around in the office. Allowing employees to have their own work area, as opposed to hot desking, can also help calm any nerves and concerns as it drastically reduces any close contact between team members. If, however, someone does fall ill or develops any symptoms, you should follow government guidelines for self isolating, making any necessary adjustments to work alongside your employees.

Get the office back in working order

If you’ve realised that you’ll need to change the layout of your office, it may take you a couple of days to get everything in working order, ready for your team to get back to work. Moving and adding desks also means that you’ll need to relocate things like computers, printers, and even any storage like drawers and cupboards. Some of your team may have even taken their office equipment home at the start of the pandemic, such as monitors, in order to set up their home office. While you can offer to pay the cab fare for employees returning office equipment, in order to minimise any damages from public transport, the expenses can quickly add up.

Many businesses at the start of the first wave closed their offices and moved all their stuff to storage units. It did not make a lot of financial sense to keep paying high rent for the commercial spaces. With COVID-19 entering the endemic stage, offices that had closed down earlier are looking to hire new spaces, unlock their storage units and get back to a normal functioning mode. One of the major help areas they would require is in the area of office removal services in london. In other words, they would require moving companies that will help them get back their stuff from the storage units and safely transport it to their new locations.

Instead, consider having a courier collect the loaned equipment from your employees and delivering it to the office, ready to be set up on the first day back. Some couriers, such as CitySprint, specialise in the relocation of IT equipment specifically for businesses relocating employees between the office and home.

Bear in mind that reorganising an office takes time and careful planning. Even before you get to the office, you should have a plan of where everything is going to go, and how it’ll be organised, keeping in mind the importance of having a well-planned office space. It’s a good idea to have a small team of people dedicated to the reorganisation, rather than taking on such a large task yourself.

Invest in supportive measures

As previously mentioned, many people are afraid of returning to work and the office environment, and it’s highly likely that some of your employees will have reservations about returning to work in the office. Open up communication between the teams, and take any concerns into consideration when getting back to the office. Keeping them in the loop throughout the process, including giving them plenty of notice before opening the office again, means your employees are given the chance to voice their opinions. If, for example, you have employees who are considered vulnerable or who live with someone who is, they may wish to continue working remotely, if this is possible. It’s important to be flexible during this time, so your team feels listened to and comfortable during the transition.

You should also invest in mental health support for the company, regularly checking in on how everyone is feeling and whether or not they need any additional help. The pandemic has affected everyone in different ways, so it’s important to be understanding of everyone’s different needs. For example, a member of your team may need to take time off to look after someone else or may need a day or two of recovery if they choose to be vaccinated.

However and whenever you choose to return to the office, ensure that you encourage transparency throughout the business, and listen to any concerns that your team may have about the transition. Be flexible and compassionate, and remember that an open line of communication between you and your employees is crucial.

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