What safety guidelines do you need to have in place? How do you communicate those new regulations and expectations? Do you bring everybody back at once or plan a phased return to work?
There’s a lot to sort through, but there’s the good news. Your transition to remote work had to happen almost instantaneously in order to keep your team safe, but now you can take some time to hash out your return to work plan. It deserves some careful thought and strategy.
We know the entire world isn’t heading back into the office quite yet, but there are some countries where employees are getting back to their desks.
So, whether you’re already beginning that return process or want to get ready for the future, use this as your guide to return to your workplace in a way that’s strategic, organized, and — most importantly — safe.
Heading back to the office: How to prepare your workplace and your team
Thinking about returning to the office is exciting. But, it’s also nerve-wracking. Things won’t look or function the way they did before, and that can bring on some anxiety for everybody.
As with anything else, adequate preparation can help to calm everybody’s nerves. Here are a few tips to get your team and your office ready for your arrival.
Tips for preparing your team
It’s important that you recognize that a good chunk of your workforce is probably going to be wary of coming back together.
One poll of U.S. workers done by Korn Ferry found that half of American professionals were reluctant to go back to the office in early June. A separate study done by Qualtrics, also in June, found that 65% of U.K. workers were uncomfortable returning to their workplaces.
That hesitation is justifiable, and it shouldn’t be overlooked. Instead, boost the confidence of your employees by:
- Clearly communicating your new procedures and safety guidelines
You’ll need to implement the safety guidelines recommended by your state or country (more about those below). Send an email providing the details of these measures to your team to not only boost their understanding but also show them that you’re taking their safety seriously.
Creating training courses that familiarize employees with these new procedures can help ensure compliance and make employees feel at ease in their return.
- Giving employees an option
If you have enough flexibility to manage this, don’t make the return to the office mandatory. Give your team members the option. If they feel comfortable and confident enough to come back, they can. But, anybody who would rather stay home can continue their work there.
- Welcoming feedback and concerns
Your employees should feel like they’re an active part of the return to the office. Provide regular opportunities for them to share feedback and voice their concerns — such as office hours or weekly town hall meetings. Not only will this let you reassure them, but it will also help you consistently improve your office environment and procedures. This is going to be a learning process for everybody.
Tips for preparing your office
When it comes to preparing your physical space, a lot will depend on your environment, the size of your team, and more.
However, some general recommendations for improving and adapting your office include:
- Removing or spreading our furniture to allow for more physical distancing
- Checking the building’s ventilation system and making necessary improvements
- Installing shields or other physical barriers where needed
- Setting up sanitizing and personal protective equipment (PPE) stations
- Conducting a thorough cleaning and sanitization of your office building, and scheduling regular cleanings moving forward
- Posting signage to remind team members about new regulations and safety measures
What safety guidelines should you consider for your return to office plans?
To plan for the safest return to the office, you should follow any safety guidelines that have been released by your state or country.
The recommendations vary by area, but here are some helpful resources:
- EU-OSHA’s COVID-19: Guidance for the Workplace
- United States CDC Employer Information for Office Buildings
- Safe Work Australia’s COVID-19 Information for Workplaces
- Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security and the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) Opinions on Stabilizing Labor Relations and Supporting Enterprises’ Resumption of Work and Production
Don’t see your own country’s guidance on the above list? A simple Google search should bring up the recommendations for your area.
How to use Wrike to create a return to work plan
From office preparation tasks to documentation and resources, there’s a lot you need to organize for your team’s return to the office.
Wrike can help you keep track of everything and manage this project effectively. Start by creating a folder within Wrike titled “Return to Office” or something else that makes sense to you. Within this folder, you can create separate projects. For example:
- Project #1: Prepare the physical office building
- Project #2: Prepare the team
Now, within those projects, you can break things into different tasks (these are action items like “install transparent shields” or “send an announcement email to the team”), assign people to different tasks, and track your progress. This means you won’t bring anyone back to the building until you’ve crossed your t’s and dotted your i’s.
Using Wrike to plan a phased return to work
Now that you have that structure set up, you can also use Wrike to work out a phased return to the office — where you bring people back slowly, rather than all at once.
You and your team members can use Wrike to collaborate, discuss, and decide on your criteria. Will you bring groups of people back alphabetically? Based on their job role or department? How will you decide when you’re ready to move to the next phase?
Those are all things you’ll need to agree on, and with email and chat integrations, Wrike makes it a lot easier to keep that communication centralized so all opinions are heard and considered.
Next, if you really want to plan things out carefully, you can create specific tasks within your “Return to Office” project for each phase and then assign the team members who will come back with that group. You can even build in task dependencies between phases.
Let’s say you have a rule that you need to disinfect the office and receive another stock of PPE before you can move forward with bringing the next phase of employees back to the office. Setting up those task dependencies in Wrike means you can’t move to subsequent tasks until those preparations are completed.
How to use Wrike for PPE inventory management
It’s no secret that PPE has been in short supply since the start of the pandemic. And, if you’re going to plan for a safe return to work, you need to ensure that you have the right supplies for everybody in the office.
Wrike has plenty of resource management features that will help you monitor, allocate, and maximize your materials and equipment.
The last thing you want is for team members to show up to the office and not have access to the supplies they need to keep themselves safe. So, appropriately managing your resources is imperative.
Get prepared for a safe return to the office, regardless of when it happens
Maybe you’re currently in the middle of creating a return to work plan. Or perhaps your team’s return is still quite a ways off in the future.
Regardless of where on the spectrum you fall, adequate preparation is key to making the transition from remote work to in-office collaboration as seamless as possible.
Use this as your guide and you’ll head back to the office in a way that’s successful, streamlined, and safe.
Want to make your return to the workplace even easier? Wrike can help you plan it all out. Start your free trial now.