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When Is the Right Time to Bring Your Team Back to the Office?

  • Jun 29, 2021
  • Ad Culture Admin
  • 0 Comments

In an effort to help flatten the curve of COVID-19, people all over the world have shifted from an office environment to a home-based setting. However, thanks to the vaccine, some countries have gradually begun to return to normal and have restarted their economic efforts.

Working from home in the last year has changed who we all are as individuals. While it did prompt us to adapt to a new work environment and trudge through uncharted territory, remote working has swiftly become the new norm. That being said, suddenly shifting back to a traditional office workspace could trigger many emotions. This entails both happiness for the fact that the world is opening up again, and possible anxiety from a routine that we have grown used to.

If you’re in charge of managing a team, then you might be wondering when is the right time to bring your employees back to work?

Don’t let these questions cloud your mind. Let’s dive right in!

Coworkers look at a tablet at work with masks on

Back to Work Safety Measures

COVID-19 Office Safety

Heading back to work during a pandemic can be daunting. By now, we are already too familiar with the gravity of this health situation. This is why we cannot stress enough how important it is to know your responsibilities as an employer to protect workers and implement proper safety measures.

Here are some non-negotiable office safety measures you need to have in place before bringing your team back to work:

  • Everyone Must Wear a Mask
    Wearing a mask can save your life and the lives of others, whether you have COVID-19 or not. If you’re debating on having your team back to office work soon, it is of utmost importance that you require everyone to mask up at all times.
  • Implement Routine Temperature Checks
    Preferably, you should hire an on-site nurse or look for volunteers among your employees who are willing to be in charge of temperature checks and workplace screening. This role requires proper training, personal protective equipment, and a no-touch thermometer.

    Temperature checks need to be done before and after your employees exit the building. In the event that someone is running a fever, they should be carefully escorted to the nearest medical facility for further advice or testing.

  • Create Sanitizing Stations and Regular Disinfecting Routines
    COVID-19 doesn’t just spread via the air through water droplets; random surfaces can also be contaminated, making them high-risk elements for transmission. This means that everything needs to be disinfected, especially high-touch surfaces, such as elevator buttons, desks, chairs, computer keyboards, bathrooms, doorknobs, and other types of office equipment.

    Install sanitizing stations equipped with alcohol-based hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. These are best placed inside restrooms, at every work cubicle, and in the dining area.

A man and woman physical distancing at work

Enforce Strict Physical Distancing Measures

This one may be a little bit tricky when you’re in an office space, but as much as possible, do not have everyone crowd in a small conference room for a meeting. If the message can be conveyed through email, you might want to take that into consideration for the safety of all parties.

Furthermore, enforcing a skeletal system of only the most essential workforce could help minimize contact. If there is a portion of your team that could effectively continue working from home, then they should continue to do so. This reduces the chances of any infections at the office.

First Aid Contingency Plan

If your office doesn’t already have an on-site EMT or nurse, now is the time to hire one. In the event that someone in your workplace exhibits symptoms that may correlate to COVID-19, you’ll have a professional on-site to guide you through the proper steps.

One highly important step is to have contingency plans in place. You need to know what to do, who to call, where to go, and how to instruct your team if this occurs.

Contact Tracing

As most people already know, countries like South Korea and New Zealand have been the most successful at keeping the virus at bay thanks to their brilliant contact tracing system. Contact tracing is the process of identifying every single person that has come in contact with an infected individual. Doing this contains the further spread of the virus.

To effectively implement this process at your office you can send out a form that requires everyone to enter their updated contact information. Some governments across the world have resorted to using contact tracing QR codes for added convenience.

It takes more than just a phone number to trace every contact related to the case, but it’s a strong starting point.

Back to Work: How Leadership Can Support Their Teams

Making sure that health and safety provisions are in place is one thing, but providing emotional support and encouragement is a whole other aspect that leaders need to take into account.

In order to motivate your team to make a full-force comeback to the office, you need to display the key characteristics of a true leader, and at the top of that list is empathy. Leaders need to understand that everyone’s individual work from home experience was different, and every individual on your team will have varied reactions towards transitioning back to a traditional workplace. This is where you need to engage and empathize with them, not only as a leader, but also as a human being who can relate to the circumstances.

Listen to Your Team’s Needs: Flexible Office Work

Ask questions, listen, and consider what your team’s unique needs and opinions are in order to successfully bring everyone back to work. Forging strong relationships and providing your team with the support they need during this time is key in order to create a safe and comfortable workplace. For instance, give them the opportunity to choose their work schedules or the specific timeframe of their transition back to office work. Does everyone need to be at the office five days per week, or is there room for optional remote workdays? Having control over their schedules is a huge motivator in leading your team back to a physical workplace.

Additionally, instill a wider sense of purpose. Leaders can encourage their employees to make their first steps back into the office by showing them just how much their work contributes to the bigger picture. They have to know that their efforts are geared towards the greater good of the company, the brand, and the consumers. Whatever the nature of your business may be, every single person on the team is an essential part of the ultimate goal of success.

To sum it all up, let human connection be the forefront of this move back to office work. After over a year of isolation, it’s nice to see a friendly face from work, knowing that they are more than just a colleague.

Back To Work In The Safest Way Possible

Going back to work should be done with caution. The right time to bring your team back to office work all depends on the guidelines by health professionals and your own discretion, but remember to handle it in the safest manner possible. We cannot afford to compromise health and safety once people are back at work.

Whether you’re bringing back your old team or looking to hire new talent to join your enterprise for added firepower, AdCulture can help match your brand with highly skilled and competent candidates. Reach out to our office today to learn more about our recruitment services!

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