Back To Work: Best Practices For Returning To Your Office

No matter when it happens, you’ll need a plan in place for when some or all of your staff can return to work at the office. Do you know what your top IT, cybersecurity, and HR considerations should be?

After more than a year and a half of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s likely that your business has gotten into a rhythm with remote work. But, depending on where you operate, you could have the opportunity to return to work in the office sometime soon.

Do you know how to do so efficiently and productively?

What Do You Need To Do To Get Back To The Office?

Managing Your Growth

The silver lining of the pandemic is that it was a key opportunity to improve your business’ processes for adapting to and overcoming challenges. Reflect on this process so you can make the best of it:

  • What Changes Did You Make To Work Processes That Should Be Kept? Whether you plan to continue with remote work or not, if you implemented new practices for time management, communication, or other workplace priorities that helped to boost productivity and engagement, then you should continue with them.
  • What Changes Did You Make To Work Processes That Should Not Be Kept? On the other hand, if you found that some new processes or the nature of remote work itself led to delays and lowered productivity, there’s no reason to keep them going. This is especially important when you’re determining who on your team will continue with remote work. If someone did not thrive in the remote setting, you should bring them back into the office as soon as you can.

Managing Your Staff’s Transition

Make Sure Your Staff Is Safe: First, consider the human element. Employees don’t have the same say as executives making the call to reopen the office, but it’s important to have communication with everyone involved to understand their thoughts, ideas, and concerns.

Those who work in a high-contact industry, for instance, may have many questions about reopening. Try to be inclusive of the people who are concerned.

There are many health and safety measures you will need to incorporate, including:

  • Workers suspected of having the coronavirus are prohibited from showing up to work
  • Companies are required to notify workers of possible exposure to infected co-workers within 24 hours
  • Vaccination policies need to be considered and rolled out
  • Companies must mandate a range of safety measures, including:
    • Physical distancing
    • Use of protective gear such as face masks and gloves
    • Regular sanitation, disinfecting, and hand-washing.

Any organization planning to open its doors again must make sure they’re following the right health and safety measures to keep the staff, clients, and overall community safe.

Follow this checklist to make sure you’re prepared:

Touchless Equipment 

  • Touchless access control so employees don’t need physical items to enter
  • Touchless door openers that allow for opening with feet as opposed to hands
  • Touchless sinks and hand soap to minimize the risk of disease transmission
  • Touchless hand dryers that minimize the chance of cross-contamination

Protective Equipment 

  • Hand sanitizer for situations when a sink and soap isn’t accessible
  • Face masks for situations when social distancing isn’t possible
  • Gloves to protect against unnecessary spreading of germs

Make Sure Your Staff Is Organized

There’s no need to rush back to the office if some work can still be handled remotely. While most jobs can be done from home, you should take a moment to consider what jobs specifically can be managed while outside of the office.

Make Sure Your Staff Is Motivated

Before bringing your entire staff back to the office, have just the managers and team leaders come in to talk about motivating your staff. Celebrate the fact that you can work together again, without putting others at risk or ignoring the safety and health precautions mentioned above.

Managing Your Sales & Marketing

While you will undoubtedly want to get back to business, generating sales leads and closing new business, it’s important to recognize that the pandemic will have long-lasting effects. Even if you’re back in the office, it doesn’t mean your prospects are.

You can expect fewer leads and opportunities due to the economic effects of the pandemic as well. Set your expectations appropriately, and where possible, modify your marketing to reflect an understanding of the difficult situation that everyone is in.

Managing Your Continuity

While the pandemic may be winding down, that doesn’t mean it’s over, or that something similar won’t happen again. The question is: are you ready for another wave of the pandemic?

Although you may be able to bring your staff into the office at some point, it’s important not to forget all the hard lessons learned during this pandemic. Another wave is a distinct possibility, and so, you need to make sure you have a viable remote work plan in place that can be launched quickly.

Regardless of when you return to the office, and whether it’s your entire staff or just part of it, you have to manage the process carefully. The health of your employees, the security of your data, and the productivity of your business as a whole will be on the line.

Managing Your Technology

In addition to processes, HR considerations, and other key areas of your business, you’ll also want to make sure your technology is ready to support your return to the office. Part of this process means assessing and securing any personal devices in use at home to ensure they can be used on the business network in a safe manner.

Use this five-point checklist to make sure everything is in order:

  1. Update Your Systems: If your onsite hardware and systems have been out of use for months on end, you’ll want to have your IT team visit the office a few days before everyone else comes back. Make sure that all systems and software are up to date — if you don’t, you could have unaddressed cybersecurity vulnerabilities at play. Furthermore, many programs may require updating upon startup, which will be a big waste of your staff’s time when they first return to the office.
  2. Touch Base With Your Service Providers: Make sure your service providers know you’ll be returning to the office. While you may not have specifically paused service during your work-from-home period, it’s good to double-check that everything will operate as expected when you return.
  3. Plan Your Hybrid Approach: If you won’t be having your entire staff return all at once, then you’ll need to do some organizing to manage a hybrid in-office and remote work arrangement. Maintaining productivity and communication between an in-office and remote staff is not necessarily easy, but if you take stock of devices in use, ensure everyone is on the same file-sharing platform, and have regular meetings to bring everyone together, it can be managed.
  4. Conduct A Gap Analysis: If you’ve been focusing on remote work for the past half a year, then it wouldn’t be surprising if your onsite system has developed some new vulnerabilities. In terms of your security, the gap analysis is a way of assessing “where your IT system is currently” and “where you need it to be”.
  5. Test Your Disaster Recovery: Even if a global pandemic hadn’t forced you to work remotely for most of this year, you should be testing your DR processes on a regular basis. Returning to the office is a key opportunity to run through your DR processes and make sure they’re still effective.

Looking For Expert IT Assistance For Your Return To The Office?

Above all else, your return to the office needs to be handled carefully.

You and your team have likely gotten into a rhythm with remote work over the past year and a half — there’s no reason to rush back to the office and risk an extended drop in productivity, or even worse, risk your employees’ health.

Take your time and plan each step in detail, including day-to-day IT services & support. The more work you do ahead of time, the smoother the transition will be.

If you’re looking for expert guidance in the process, here’s how to get it:

  1. Contact our team and arrange a consultation.
  2. Let us assess your onsite systems, and develop a plan for updating technology and eliminating vulnerabilities.
  3. Hit the ground running when you finally get back to work in the office.

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