What to consider as your office gets “back to work”

Slowly but surely, many areas across the country are getting back to work and returning to their offices. Our “new normal” may not look exactly like the normal we all knew before the words “coronavirus” and “COVID-19” became part of our household lexicon. 
But, it will be some semblance of normal, and we will be getting back to some form of normal work. That is something to celebrate for sure!
As our offices here at Matlen Silver return to work and your office prepares to return as well, here is some of our favorite advice to help you and your team readjust to the new normal:

Stay focused on health and safety

Everyone (and I do mean everyone) is eager to get back to work and have a somewhat normal day at the office (especially parents who have been working from home AND teaching their kids!). But while we’re all ready, it’s important that we don’t forget why we had to work from home in the first place. 
Market research from Harris Poll recently discovered that, although we can all agree we want a sense of normal, a majority of office workers are hesitant to go back. Around a quarter of the respondents don’t want to go back until they feel safe. 
This means it’s up to employers to help their employees feel safe (and do everything possible to keep them safe). 
Have a plan in place to keep employees safe, which could include some or all of these elements: 
> Regularly cleaning/sterilizing surfaces
> Spacing out workspaces and desks
> Minimizing unnecessary meetings (and instilling social distancing and/or masks to keep people safe when in meetings
> Clear communication that any sick employee should stay home
> Possible temperature checks before coming into work
> Plenty of hand sanitizer, Lysol/disinfectant and masks for employees to use at the office

Keep a sense of flexibility in mind

Our team offered this advice when you were first working remotely, and it’s still important. Although the office may be bustling again, many of your employees are still dealing with situations at home (and certainly, the larger situation of the pandemic), which may necessitate flexible scheduling. 
Rather than focusing on when people are coming into work and when they’re leaving, focus on what they’re doing while they’re in the office. One thing many businesses have learned during the pandemic is that the quality and amount of work being delivered is what’s most important. Although we all had to adjust and many of us learned on the fly, we did produce great work while working from home. As long as the quality and quantity of work produced meets expectations, try to remember that your team is still going through a challenging time. 

Ask for input from your team

None of us has been through a situation like this before, so we’re essentially all “winging it” as we try to get back to “normal.” Consider asking for input through a simple, online survey before you head back to the office. Ask your team what will help them feel safe and comfortable at work. Ask for feedback on what worked (and what didn’t) while working remotely, and what your team would like to see changed or retained from the past few months. 
Soliciting feedback from your team (then, listening and taking action on that feedback) can help your team feel comfortable and confident returning to the office, while simultaneously showing them that you truly care about their health and comfort. 

Show (and encourage) empathy

While we’ve all gone through this time together (but also apart),  none of us has had the same experience over the last few months. 
We’ve got fears, stresses and responsibilities, pre-existing conditions, relatives,  and furloughed spouses. And as we head back to the office, those things don’t just disappear. It’s a lot for anyone to handle!
While it’s impossible to meet every single need for every single person, it is important to listen and show that you care and understand the challenges your employees are facing right now. From the top down, it’s important that we all show our colleagues, partners, and vendors some compassion as we continue to move forward and get through this time. 

We’re here to help you get back to work

As you return to the office and need the right talent to help you reach your goals, our team is here to help. Contact us to talk about your needs and goals. Our network of exceptional talent is ready to go!

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