WHY YOU SHOULD RETHINK YOUR REOPENING PLANS
As offices reopen, employers everywhere defer to popular resources, such as the CDC’s guidelines, to implement healthy office environments. But let’s call it like it is - these guidelines only touch on safety. Instead, employers need to consider all the changes that will bring their teams back into the office. We will explain how employers can rethink the meaning of offices then invest in some changes that make employees want to actually come back to work.
NEW OFFICE, WHO DIS?
Which came first, the office or the employee? Look at it this way, you can still have a company without an office but you can’t have one without employees. The office is a support structure and incentive for most likely your largest asset - talent. Now that your offices have to compete with employees’ homes, organizations need to reexamine the value of the office to their workforce and culture.
Use these questions to reset w/ employees:
- What factors make our office a more productive workplace than home?
- What features make our office a more enjoyable and comfortable place to work?
- What setting is the most collaborative for you and your team?
- What office perks would incentivize you to come in?
Use these questions to gauge employees' interested in office attendance:
- How many days or hours a week would you ideally work from the office?
- Which part of the day, if needed, would you most likely work from the office?
- How consistent do you anticipate your schedule and work location to be?
When reading the answers, forget what you previously thought about an office. Given the amount of change in everyone’s work-life balance, managers and employees will have to strike new agreements on work schedules and locations. Organizational leaders should use the collected feedback and business priorities to make new policies and investments for their teams, such as, home office stipends, flexible perk spending, or office catering. Finally, use this feedback as a baseline for employee satisfaction in the months and years to come.
Starting a conversation about workplaces will take some time, meanwhile, you have an office to reopen in the next month. For that reason, we have selected some of the best steps we’ve heard about to jumpstart your office transformation that balance employee health and exciting office upgrades.
A BETTER WAY TO SAY “WELCOME BACK”
To get started, employers should begin with the most urgent task at hand - redesigning the office to foster high productivity and engagement compared to employee homes, while taking into account new health & safety procedures. The CDC currently recommends removing shared amenities like snack stations and use of the communal breakroom. While these recommendations are focused on creating a safer environment, they inevitably remove some of the benefits employees experienced when coming into the office.
We propose a better way to reopen your office -- that allows you to make safe adjustments while minimizing the burden and change for employees, therefore retaining some of the most important, and familiar, parts of your office and culture.
- Invest in a daily lunch and/or snack program to keep office workers together. Snacks and lunch at the office make it easy for teams to stay focused and minimize trips in and out of the office. At home, employees have the opportunity to snack and have quick meals without letting it interrupt their workflow. Bring this benefit of WFH into the office by offering a daily delivered lunch and snack program. Not only does having fresh food make the office a more comparable workplace, your investment keeps employees at the office in a safe environment.
- Keep shared amenities open by hiring attendants to manage and sanitize. Rather than closing the beloved communal coffee machine or snack lounge, hire thoughtfully trained attendants to manage these amenities - think “office barista”. Place the requirement of sanitizing high-traffic areas on a single person so employees have one less thing to worry about when coming into the office.
- Retain your culture’s flexible work environment through staggered scheduling. Empower employees with control over their in-office work hours by offering self-selected staggered schedules, office time RSVP, and live directories. Encourage teams to maximize their time in the office when necessary and remain remote when in-person collaboration isn’t needed.
How companies utilize office space to support their workforce will require constant adaptation over the next few years. Employers should continue measuring and understanding the workplace needs for their workforce. Conversations about employee satisfaction, workplace preferences, and productivity should become part of the culture. Employers will come out on top if they go beyond simple health & safety office changes and embrace this opportunity as a true workplace transformation
Sifted is here to help you with your office’s reopening strategy. If you’re interested in learning more, please reach out to email@example.com.
About the Authors
Client Experience Manager | firstname.lastname@example.org
Directs account management and customer experience strategies at Sifted.
Director of Operations | email@example.com
Leads all market operations, customer experience practice, and data analytics.