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A Guide to Returning to Work in January

Over the past few months, most people across the globe have shifted to working from home, as well as reinventing themselves both personally and professionally. Many firm leaders have said they hope to return 40 percent of their employees to the office by August 2021. Overall, the reality is that there isn’t any urgency to return to a physical space and many firms have adapted to the remote work environment so significant health, safety, and sanitation challenges remain. As many employees and tenants do begin to return to the workplace, it is extremely important that when we open the doors, we are inviting everyone into a safe environment. Together we can help businesses succeed as we take a step forward into a new and different world.

Who needs to return and who doesn’t?

Leaders should consider several factors when deciding who needs to return to the workplace. To ensure effective and successful re-entry, leaders can create a centralized working group to oversee the entire situation. That group can coordinate with the leadership team and execute plans. It’s more important now than ever to be very intentional about communicating your company culture, knowing candidates no longer have the benefit of sitting in the waiting room and observing lunchtime, hallway conversations, or meetings in progress.

Are the workplaces ready?

Many employees understand why they may need to return to the office, but it is important that they feel ready, willing, and able to come in. Some may have responsibilities at home, such as child care or eldercare. They may also have safety concerns so it is a must that businesses comply with government health and safety mandates. Making employees and customers feel safe enough to return to offices, banks, and other physical spaces fall squarely on management. In light of growing concerns among employees about the safety of shared workspaces, companies need to redesign the agile work environments within office buildings to follow social distancing and sanitation rules.

How can you remain flexible and agile?

While organizations are anxious to get employees back into the workplace, they must keep in mind that determining who will return and when they will return is a complex process. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to re-entering workplaces. Each company will have to make decisions based on its strategy, resources, and focus area. Identify and confirm supply chains for personal health protection equipment and determine advance ordering requirements. Even as employees re-enter, leaders should prepare for future scenarios such as another potential stay-at-home order in case the pandemic spread resurfaces or increases. Evaluate the room, technology, and equipment provided at the desk to support social distancing and disinfection.

Overall, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the future of work across industries. Leaders should strive to find a balance between revenue and cost while remaining committed to their organizations’ purpose.

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