Office Reopening: Your IT Guide For A Smooth Transition After COVID-19
As daunting as the idea of closing offices was for many businesses at the start of the COVID-19 crisis, the idea of reopening is even more so. Aside from issues of employee safety and government regulations, many employers are just not sure where to begin. Here are some 4 steps to get you started:
1. Consider your space
The 6-feet apart guidelines mean that many offices will need to be reconfigured before reopening. Plus workstations should ideally be separated with plexiglass or other non-porous partitions.
Open office layouts will need the most transformation. Given what you have and the number of people you need to protect, create a new layout for your office that gives the maximum number of people possible the required space for safety.
2. Consider your team
Talk to your leaders and teams to find out who they most need to be face-to-face with and who most needs to be in office. Some of your team may be able to return more quickly than others (daycares and camps are still closed or running at limited capacity).
It will be important for morale that each teammate’s situation is considered as much as possible. For some continued work from home may be the solution. Once you understand the communication needs of your team, it’s time to put together your plan.
4. Create a plan
Your plan needs to include who will sit where, who will be in the office when and how to enable meetings and group working sessions to proceed safely.
First comes the seating chart. Keep teams that work on similar projects together as much as possible and consider if people will be sharing workstations on alternate days or hours of the day. Map it all out.
Then look at your meeting spaces (if they haven’t all been used up for more workstations). How many people can meet there and still maintain a 6-foot distance? How will you handle the needs of larger groups?
5. Consider your tech
Each new workstation will need phones, internet access, power cords and more. Since web conferencing is likely to continue, they’ll also need headsets and microphones. You may need to do some reconfiguration or rewiring of systems to make this seamless.
Layer this on to your seating map and work with your IT staff or providers to make sure each new station is fully operational before bringing your team in. After all, the whole point is to get back to work smoothly.
6. Stock up & sign up
Stock up on things that will encourage your team to stay safe — Hand-washing or sanitizing stations, disinfectant wipes for desks and counters, computer screen cleaners (so they won’t use the wipes and ruin your screens), and more. Have extra masks on hand in case someone forgets or tears theirs.
Signs will help everyone know what is expected and keep anyone from feeling “silly” about following the rules. They also let your team know that their safety is important to you. Consider marking 6-foot spaces on the floor around the coffee machine, water cooler or other areas people congregate.
Remember those new “capacity” numbers you figured out for your conference rooms in step 1? Post them on the doors. Also consider moving or storing the extra seating to discourage larger gatherings.
7. Check temperatures (and temperaments)
Create a temperature check station at the entry to the office. Anyone with a temp over 99 degrees should be politely sent home. This applies to visitors, vendors and clients as well as staff.
Keep in mind that returning to the office will be a high stress time for many. Be compassionate and considerate and encourage your team to be the same with each other. Focus on being as soothing and nonthreatening as possible is everything you do.
8. Communicate, communicate, communicate
Once your plan is taking shape, talk it over with your leaders and get feedback. Then roll it out to the whole team for more feedback. Be prepared to adjust your plan based on what you hear.
And don’t forget to ask the SWAT Systems team for any help or advice you may need along the way. We’re all in this together and a healthy, working, happy and safe Seattle is the goal.
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