Remote work rapidly evolved from a nice-to-have job perk to an essential practice in 2020. Looking ahead, telework will almost certainly remain a fixture of many workplace cultures, due not only to the ongoing public health concerns related to COVID-19 but also the positive effects of working from home on employee happiness and productivity.
Remote Work Thrives, But The Office Lives On
Indeed, the June 2020 U.S. Remote Work Survey from PwC found that a majority of workers wanted to telecommute at least once weekly after the coronavirus pandemic ended and that 55% of employers planned to offer such an option.
At the same time, a similar share of employees (50%) still wanted to go into the office to collaborate in person, while half of the employers felt that adequate office space would continue to be important to supporting workforce growth.
In other words, the office isn’t obsolete yet. But as workers gradually return to company sites, organizations must carefully manage this transition in light of health and safety considerations as well as changes in workflows. Let’s examine three tips for moving workers back into your workplace.
Tip No. 1: Prioritize Health And Safety
It’s no secret that returning workers are concerned about their health and safety on the job. From the distance between workspaces to the sanitization of shared devices, there are multiple areas of concern about the potential for COVID-19 transmission within offices. A summer 2020 survey from Korn Ferry found that half of U.S. workers were reluctant to return.
So what can employers do? Some of the most important measures to implement include:
- Increased use of wireless online screen sharing as an alternative to handling wired projectors and setting up conference rooms.
- Configuration of digital signage to indicate safe social distancing and optimal traffic flows.
- Regular cleaning of in-place devices, such as workstation PCs, as well as desks, door handles, and windows as applicable.
Tip No. 2: Rethink Technology And Office Space
Speaking of PC workstations, it may be time to revaluate the utility of such hardware and to reassess once-popular office layouts such as open floor plans.
Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, a scientific study published by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology found that spaces perceived as overcrowded, such as open offices, increased stress by making the people in them worry more about disease infection.
Creating more space between employees and/or providing them with dedicated rooms and desks can be a major boost for both health and productivity. Moreover, certain tech can further reduce strain:
- Intelligent workspace technologies, such as AI-powered noise suppression and dedicated collaboration devices, make it easier for in-office employees to connect with colleagues and customers elsewhere.
- Integrated team chat software is perfect for across-the-room (or across-the-country) collaboration, as it provides real-time interaction with rich content sharing – something that email alone cannot match.
- Cloud calling provides more scalable, versatile, and higher-definition communications than an on-prem PBX phone system.
Also Read: Effective ways to manage Remote Employees
Tip No. 3: Change The Performance Review Process
As workers spend more time away from the office – even if they do return in some capacity – it will be important to reconsider the traditional performance review process. Instead of the occasional comprehensive meeting, a series of shorter, more regular check-ins could be advantageous.
SHRM chronicled this trend as one of the important ways in which organizations were becoming more flexible in the COVID-19 world. Combined with collaboration tools like Webex for calling and meetings and screen sharing, this technique can smooth the transition back into the office by recognizing how day-to-day work has changed and providing employees with new processes and technologies to adapt accordingly.
Also Read: Office layout & Productivity