Many businesses around the world are thinking of adopting an office reopening plan to get back to the situation before the pandemic. Many businesses struggled in the online working environment and some even terminated the business as they couldn’t keep up with the change. On the other side, some other companies found that online working was better for them. They even sponsored initiatives to get other businesses to adopt this system of work.
Whatever your case is, we cannot deny that physical interaction and face-to-face communication are healthy for your company or office. Now, since it is time to reopen your office, you should be thoughtful in how you plan to do the transition. You don’t need to give up on the merits of online working for the sake of returning back to the office. In fact, you can make use of both.
Here are five tips for office reopening that would help you with the new hybrid system many companies are working with now.
The first thing to think of when designing an office reopening plan is how will you communicate with all the team? Before, it was easy to gather the whole team in a meeting room if there is something urgent to discuss. Now, it is different as not all the team are present at the office every day.
Most offices and companies are now using online communication methods which are very prevalent today. Also, people with minimal experience can use such means of communication as they became very user-friendly. The point is not about the tool you will use but how to use it.
For example, if there is a task shared by team members and they need to update each other frequently about the progress. Some of the team members are working at the office or maybe at different offices, so, they can communicate face-to-face. In this case, you need a work management system that is capable of giving real-time updates to the whole team members.
Another communication-related aspect is engaging all members in a hybrid meeting at the same level. More often, when there is a meeting that includes both online and on-site members, the ones present in the reopened office engage more and they can even forget there are other online members. The best way to solve this problem is by planning a meeting where each member has time to speak and it should go in cycles where all members provide their point of view and have the opportunity to reply to others.
Focus on behaviors
Setting new plans and systems is essential for reopening but getting your employees to abide by the system is more important. That’s why behaviors are very important when you think of a reopening plan.
Typically, all people involved in your company or office were used to some rituals related to the work and working environment. These things changed now as you have a new system of work. To get the workers to change their way of work, you can’t just establish a plan and ask all of them to follow the plan without telling them how they should behave in each condition. Thus, your reopening plan should include the expected behaviors to the new conditions from each employee level.
Further, you should set yourself as a role model for those desired behaviors. This way, you can establish a foundation for your office that everyone else follows. Even those newly hired staff by HR will follow the rituals and behaviors once they see everyone in the company doing the same thing in the same situations.
Gather team members
Before you return back, you may have new hires joining your company. Those people haven’t seen you or other team members face-to-face, so, they never have the same experience as old employees. Moreover, they didn’t engage with the organizational culture, so, they will find it more difficult to follow the rules and behaviors after offices reopening.
Thus, when you reopen the office, think of a way that guarantees all the new members can see each other and more importantly, other partners and employees. Inc. companies will need this more than small offices as they probably have different cultures and work systems integrated together. So, new employees need to get acquainted with all of this together.
You may put schedules for new members that ensure they meet with all the people in the company on certain days. Also, you can plan for onboarding events where the new employees get oriented to the whole company with all its offices.
Digitalize your business
When offices reopen, people don’t want to miss the advantages of online working they had before. So, make sure to get the most out of digitalization and the opportunities the digital environment offered.
Schedule all the meetings and important dates using online tools. Upload all the office plans including your reopening plans and other work-related plans on a cloud-based system where all the employees can engage and leave their comments. Documents and papers could be shared and even signed by different team members who are not present at the same office.
Make the digital workflow part of your overall working environment and don’t let your office reopening plan take you back to what your system was before closing. Update all your websites and social media and integrate them with the new tools you will be using in this new phase. You may need the help of experienced IT staff who can embed cookies and tracking systems to see which digital tools work better and give better results.
Consider the feedback
When you reopen offices, you need to pre-inform all your partners about your plans. Maybe one of your team members has a point of view that you didn’t consider within your plan. Thus, create the plan first and present it to the leaders. You may even need some consulting partners to give you advice on what technologies, methodologies, and tools you may need for your new plan.
After refining your plan and reaching the final version, show it to the employees who will be implementing this plan. Take their comments and advice seriously and consider their opinions. Your employees already worked both on-site and remotely, so, their opinions should be based on their experience in both methods of work.
It is an office reopening plan, not a working plan
At every step of your plan, remember that you are designing a plan to return to the office and continue the same work you were doing online. So, it is more of an organizing plan to how things should work using a hybrid system. It is not a new working plan as working plans should have been created even when you were working online.
On the same side, don’t just return to the office and follow what you were doing in the past because things have changed now as you can see. Sort out all the advantages and disadvantages of the two working methods (online and offline) and integrate the best of the best to design your new reopening plan. Remember that every company has different working conditions, so, not all plans will work the same for all people.