With new coronavirus infections going down, it will be just a matter of time when herd immunity is achieved. But as early as now, businesses are already planning out new procedures and routines in the workplace. These procedures are designed to prepare for the return of employees to working in an office setting.
Here are some things business owners can consider while preparing the workplace after the pandemic ends.
Continue Remote Work
When the pandemic started around a year ago, companies started asking employees to work from home. While some naysayers said this could spell the end of their businesses, it didn’t happen to several industries. The real estate industry may have paused at the start of the pandemic, but it came back strong. Home prices have even increased due to the strong demand in the market. And remote made these transactions possible.
It shows that productivity doesn’t suffer when people are working remotely. Some financial institutions even thrived in the middle of the health crisis. Even though many businesses closed during the crisis, these were retail stores that relied on foot traffic for sales. But some of these stores went online to reach their market.
With this in mind, business owners can consider continuing remote work arrangements for their employees, if necessary. It also allows them to reduce their operating costs since they will not need a bigger office space.
Consider a Hybrid Workforce
Another option for business owners is to create a hybrid workforce. In this model, employees perform their work remotely and only come into the office to collaborate on a project. Many companies are already planning to extend the work-from-home directives they made for their employees. And they may extend the arrangement even after the government lifts all pandemic restrictions.
In this situation, the office will become a business center rather than a traditional office. A hybrid workforce may become the new normal as many employees prefer working in their homes’ safety rather than risking their health by going to the office. Some people have even fled the urban areas and bought properties in the suburbs. This will compel business owners to rethink their idea of a corporate headquarters in the city.
If business owners consider a hybrid workforce, they can use the savings to invest in technology to strengthen their hybrid workforce. Businesses can focus on acquiring better collaboration software and tools that can enhance the productivity of their employees.
These tools can include noise-canceling headsets, monitors, computers, and even laptops. The business can even supply its employees with ergonomic chairs and better desks. All of these tools facilitate the work of its employees.
Additionally, the business should also focus on strengthening its IT department by investing in the infrastructure to make it easier for the business to manage its hybrid workforce. Increasing cloud storage, enhancing online security, and implementing solutions that facilitate troubleshooting of issues the employees deal with at home are some things a business can do to leverage technology.
Focus on Health
A hybrid workplace is ideal for employees who want to work from home. But some employees may opt to work on-site. For these employees, the business should have them vaccinated. This is to prevent the potential spread of the virus, especially if the business opens its doors before the pandemic ends. If some employees are not keen on getting the vaccine, the business may need to form a partnership with a group of patient advocates so that they can help promote vaccine confidence in the workforce.
The business can also create a touchless environment where the employees are supplied with personal collaboration tools to reduce instances of physical contact. The business can also redesign the open office environment and create individual booths where the employees can work. Each booth contains all the equipment the employee needs to work and collaborate with the team. These booths also allow the employee to interact with colleagues in an office setting while keeping them safe.
In addition to keeping the employees physically healthy, business owners should also look into their employees’ mental health. A survey conducted on remote workers from the US, the UK, and Singapore showed that over 80 percent of remote workers put more value on their mental health than the pre-COVID period. Around 80 percent also said they are willing to work on-site if they’re allowed to work from home on some days of the week. Business owners should take this into account when preparing their workers to start working on-site.
Even as businesses start preparing the workplace for their employees to work on-site, they should also make the necessary adjustments to ensure their efficiency and productivity.