Businesspeople wearing masks in the office for illness prevention.
For businesses and organizations that have spent the last couple of months as a distributed workforce, the prospects of eventually returning to offices may serve as a jolt to the daily routine you’ve become accustomed to.
Many will welcome the change, some will not.
Executives across the nation are anxiously reviewing, planning, auditing, and modeling all the various scenarios that can play out as states begin to green light shelter-in-place orders. Structural changes to headcount, re-allocation of budgets and operational shifts are all top-of-mind, as they should be.
However, with consideration to putting dollars and people to work within a given company, there is one place that stands to yield the best investment. It is creating a dedicated transition team to help you define, plan, and execute a back-to-work transition.
Every organization that employs a large number of non-essential employees who have been working remotely will face a set of unprecedented challenges, unlike the ones your human resources, operations, and building management teams have ever faced before.
What’s needed is a dedicated team that is solely designed for rethinking how every aspect of a company can safely return to maximum productivity. Reinventing floor plans, staff working shifts, and new janitorial policies are just the starting point.
Experts at the Center for Disease Control recently provided guidance on the importance of planning an effective return to workplaces, schools, and public spaces.
What’s the cost of getting it wrong?
The obvious answer is future health challenges that then amplify what we are experiencing now. Additionally, you could be looking at thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions in lost revenue from future closures or various lawsuits. Employee attrition or protests stemming from unsafe or inadequate working conditions will be a constant risk. And of course, all the unknowns that we can’t yet predict.
Fortunately, thought leaders and operational experts from across industries have already begun hatching out detailed guides to help businesses get back to traditional operations, albeit unlikely to resemble the old way of doing things.
Madrona Venture Group, a technology investment group, partnered with Chamber’s of Commerce groups to launch a Back to Work Toolkit. This detailed and in-depth resource provides video and written content for companies that are considering transitioning back into the office. Considerations like spatial planning, communication plans, cleaning protocols, employee symptom monitoring, materials inventory and so much more are included in the resource.
Similarly, a recent guide published in Bloomberg Law outlines tactical steps that organizations can take to move from distributed workers to modified workspaces.
Tech giant Salesforce stepped into the conversation on May 4th by announcing Work.com, a playbook for helping professionals shift back into normalcy. According to their public statement, the platform will include things like shift management, contact tracing, grants and public health resources, among other things.
Armed with these concepts and resources, any dedicated transition team can be well on their way to helping your company pivot from the current state of operations to something that resembles a safer, cleaner, and risk-mitigated version of 2019.
If you find certain resource guides helpful or create your own, make sure you publish them broadly or share them among your industry. One thing this national tragedy has taught us is that working together can make all the difference.