As the country begins to open back up, businesses are balancing employee safety with the need to return to full operational capacity. This translates into the creation of work environments that often look quite different from their pre-pandemic state: hybrid in-office and work from home business models. We’ve identified three potential paths to smoothly facilitate the transition.
Rotate Employees In and Out of the Office
A hybrid work environment means having some employees working from home while others return to work together in the office. Creating rotating in and out of office shifts will help maintain an agile workforce, while further ensuring the health and safety of employees. This model has worked well for healthcare workers during the pandemic. Hospitals across the country have broken their workforce into rotating shifts of individuals so that if someone in one group falls ill, the other shift can step in while the first self-quarantines.
While the acute worry of COVID infection will hopefully continue to wane, it is still a good idea to bring workers back to the office in shifts. Not only does this protect everyone’s health, but it also ensures that everyone has the chance to collaborate in person and remotely. No one group will feel excluded from the office culture, since everyone will get the opportunity to work both from home and in the office eventually.
Socially Distant Work Spaces for Those Who Return to the Office
Over the last decade, the average personal workspace footprint in an office setting has shrunk dramatically. According to the corporate real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield, those numbers have gone from 211.4 sq. ft. per worker in 2009 to 17.6 square feet in 2017. These tight quarters cannot be sustained in an office looking to protect the health of its employees in our current pandemic-minded world. While some of your employees may continue to work from home, how can you implement a plan to protect for those who do return to the office?
There are a number of creative ways your office can manage your physical space to reflect the CDC’s 6 foot distancing recommendation. First the obvious; workspaces should be spaced so that each individual has a full six feet of distance between themselves and their coworkers. This concept, sometimes called the Six Foot Office, can be easily reinforced through brightly colored rugs or carpets that remind people where the otherwise invisible boundaries are, thus helping maintain a healthy distance. Colored tape on the floors will even work in a pinch!
You may also consider implementing an occupancy limit for elevators and break rooms, as these smaller spaces can become potential hotspots for virus spreading. Keeping social distance between employees when they are in the office will help maintain a healthy workforce.
Implement a Successful Digital Culture
A robust and well-executed digital technology strategy is the glue that will hold your team together during this time. This isn’t something that happens organically, you need a strategy to accomplish this. Mentis Group works with each of its clients to help them understand, train for, and execute the digital collaboration that is essential to the success of a hybrid work environment.
As part of the onboarding process for each new client, we work with you to help you identify tools you may already be using or help you see where you can add to your portfolio to better facilitate digital collaboration. For example, are you leveraging team collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams or Slack? Tools which facilitate a fully collaborative team whether fully in-office, fully remote, or a combination of the two? Does your team leverage ongoing security awareness training and testing during normal operations, so that when working from home your users already have a sound foundation and process in place to make the correct choices?
Armed with the answers to these types of questions, Mentis can help you manage your digital culture so that all of your employees, whether in-office or not, can contribute meaningfully. Additionally, Mentis’s technicians have been trained to keep client safety front of mind when we visit your office. Not only are our own staff working from home, but we have also armed our team with masks, disinfectant wipes, gloves, and have strict procedures for disinfecting work areas when visiting a client site. Your success is our priority, so we will continue to protect you and your employees not just digitally, but also by preventing the spread of illness.