The Employers’ Guide to Heading Back to the Post-Pandemic Office

 

If your workforce is now heading back into the office en masse, adopting hybrid-working or aiming to be in after Christmas, you still have time to make those post-Covid changes and we’re here to help. 

Welcome to your guide to the transition, where we’ll be clueing you in so that you’re able to keep things safe and smooth for the big migration back to refreshed office life.

We’ll be helping you understand the feelings your team might be experiencing, identify the solutions and keep the transition as comfortable and positive as possible for all involved. 

Image of a stylish and safe post-pandemic office designed by Ben Johnson Interiors

Our client, Boxclever Consulting, reimagined their workspace ahead of the return to the office post-COVID – with our help, of course!

So what’s the plan?

Let’s get right down to business and strategise some of the effective ways to help reassure and prepare for a positive post-pandemic, Covid-secure workplace.

The big return requires something of a reset. Putting in careful consideration now and throwing open the doors to potentially new concepts for your company (such as enabling flexibility, remote working and upgraded technology) will benefit you and your staff in both the short and longer-term. 

You might be sick of hearing about “the new normal”, but hey, that’s exactly what it is and it’s worth properly considering and investing in.

So, as exciting as it may be to welcome real humans back into the physical space again, be sure to get those changes afoot and the foundations in place first. 

Cue our 5 Steps To Successfully Easing the Transition Back into the Office.

Step One: Talk to your people

Allow your staff to voice their concerns and suggestions without being judged. Take your employees’ thoughts and concerns into consideration, and remember that this could be daunting for them.  You can do this via an online forum or even an anonymous survey, whatever works best for your organisation. 

The pandemic and lockdowns caused disruption in everyone’s daily routine and it’s been more than a minute since we were all mingling under one roof, dealing with the hustle and bustle of office life.

Even with all of the Health & Safety concerns addressed, it’s still completely reasonable and natural for your employees to feel anxious about a return to the office. As their employer, it’s your job to help ease that anxiety – especially if you want to get the best from your team! The best way to reassure your staff is through open and honest communication. If they feel heard then they’ll know that their needs are more likely to be met.

Image of a stylish and safe post-pandemic office designed by Ben Johnson Interiors for Sovereign Wealth

Screens on desks provide some separation and protection for the team at the Sovereign Wealth offices.

Step Two: Create that safe environment

This solution will look different for every business but there are a few points that will apply to everyone. For example, you might want to take a look at incorporating:

  • Protective screens – There are so many products out there for this purpose. Clear, protective screens can attach directly onto existing desks to provide extra protection for employees and peace of mind that their workspace is safe, without causing damage to your existing desks. 

See our recent furniture guide for some relevant product highlights.

  • Sanitising stations – Providing contact-free sanitisation stations means the teams have easy access to washing and desk cleaning products or equipment for reassurance whenever they need it.
  • Smart space planning – Optimise your space to allow for safer physical distancing measures. Consider re-planning your office environment and really think about the movement of staff and visitors around the zones to check things are kept as safe as possible.

Image of a stylish and safe post-pandemic office designed by Ben Johnson Interiors for LeoVegas UK

Our recent work with LeoVegas UK for their Newcastle headquarters adopted smart space planning strategies and made the most of stylish glass partitioning and multi-use soft meeting spaces.

Step Three: Take this time to update your space

Complete an assessment of your furnishings and sort out any maintenance work that’s been on the to-do list for a while. This is your time to get these sorts of tasks tidied up before it’s business as normal (hopefully). 

Carry out any bigger painting or flooring works, and with furnishings, consider products that can be easily wiped clean and sanitised between uses to help protect against the spread.

Or perhaps the time away has got you thinking about a reinvention of your space? We recently explored the rethinking of the office concept in this blog post and it’s packed with tips for anyone looking to shake things up in line with post-COVID preferences, guidelines and employee expectations. 

Step Four: Make sure your social distancing policy is clear

It will reassure staff and visitors if your social distancing policy is outlined and makes it obvious that their safety is your top priority. 

You could do this by putting up effective signage to remind everyone of the current applicable social distancing guidance, avoiding sharing workstations, for the time being, encouraging one-way traffic through the office if possible and reducing the number of visitors allowed on site. 

Image of a stylish and safe post-pandemic office designed by Ben Johnson Interiors for Netsells, York

High-backed booths like these we installed in the Netsells office can help staff feel secure and reduce the risks involved with working in open spaces.

Step Five: Think about what the office offers that the home doesn’t.

Creating a place for employees to connect and socialise, albeit safely and perhaps in a new way, is the perfect option to make them feel at ease and draw them back into the office environment. 

Emphasise the fact that you’ve considered the safety aspects while allowing the team the flexibility and option to choose how and when they use the office and its facilities, while also making the physical space more purpose driven. 

Design the workplace around specific activities, using multipurpose, flexible spaces that reflect and support the different tasks that need to be carried out and the personalities that make up the team. Taking this approach will give people a reason to come in and should make them actually want to be there.

Image of a stylish and safe post-pandemic office designed by Ben Johnson Interiors for Mayborn Group

This casual working and breakout space at Mayborn Group’s HQ creates a safe, stylish and open area for work, socialising and welcoming clients

Next steps?

If you want to build on this plan, we can help tailor the solution to your specific needs, allowing everyone to get the most from your team’s return to the office. 

Every industry and business is different so it figures that each would require a unique approach to adapting and bringing things up to speed with the social and working practices for 2022 that will give your employees peace of mind.

If you want the advice and backing of a team of industry experts, get in touch and we’ll put our combined knowledge and expertise to good use, helping you take those all-important next steps towards success.