Will COVID-19 Vaccines Accelerate the Return to the Office?

Remote workers plan to return to shared office spaces “someday,” but with the COVID-19 vaccine as an option, that day is nearing. As businesses prepare to bring employees back into the office in the middle or later part of this year, our workplaces won’t look as they did before. Keeping your workforce happy, healthy, and productive is worth every penny. 

Upon returning to the office, employees can expect temperature checks, mask-wearing, and measures to manage building capacity. Collaborative office layouts present a problem for social distancing standards requiring businesses to rethink the office space they need and divide it up. An interior redesign may be necessary before employees return. Sanitizing the workplace is an expected precaution and upgrading HVAC units are now the norm. Technology to help implement these new measures will play a vital role in keeping employees safe. With Appspace, you can manage meeting spaces, display new seating charts, and monitor overall building capacity, features that simplify the transition back to shared space. 

COVID-19 has changed the way we work. Some companies are moving headquarters to new locations outside metro-areas, while others are going 100% virtual. Still, other companies have yet to decide what to do and how to shape a potentially hybrid workplace.

Right now, about 42% of the workforce is working from home full-time. Even with the arrival of a vaccine, some employees will work from home for the foreseeable future. Life is complicated, and employees have personal preferences and health concerns. 

It is up to employers to decide how to balance between directives and choice when designing a COVID-19 return to office policy. There are many variables to consider, including the industry, nature of work, and associated health risks. Many employees have continued to work as essential workers and weathered the pandemic while working at locations outside the home. Deciding what is best for a company and making tough decisions is what leaders do best. With functionality like guest check-in, space management, and digital signage to aid in social distancing reminders and safety announcements, Appspace can help employees and leaders feel a bit safer through technology.

As COVID-19 vaccines become widely available, employers need to tackle a few challenges before employees show up to shared space. What is the process for planning, preparing, and welcoming the workforce back to the office? We have a few ideas to get you started. 

Promote Safety

Accelerate the return to the office by creating safe environments and leverage technology to clarify safety protocols before arrival and during an employee’s time spent at the office. Integrating with apps your team is already using simplifies communication. Asking people to sign up for time slots will keep office attendance under protocol capacity.  

Reinforce Core Values

A company’s most extraordinary business capital is the employees’ power and positivity. Create caring messages and policies to acknowledge and accommodate challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Teach employees to give one another the benefit of the doubt in challenging situations and encourage relational connection, especially if working remotely. 

Focus on Wellness

Amplify productivity by addressing and reducing employee anxiety by communicating often and consistently. Promote wellness through your company’s benefit plans, management resources and by offering COVID-19 flex time. Talk about the benefits of exercise, social connection, and counseling. Encourage remote workers to take conference calls while on a neighborhood walk or sitting on the balcony or porch. 

Acknowledge Grief

The past year has been challenging, and employees faced loss, sickness, and hardship. As a company, make sure you acknowledge it and nurture employees who need extra support. Recognize the human element of the workplace and remind people about how much their work matters. 

As a member of your organization, you hold the power to impact those around you. Take the time to check in with peers and see how others are processing the concept of returning to the office. Respect that everyone brings a different perspective and encounters a different environment while working from home. While vaccines will accelerate returning to the office, you already have connectivity with your team right now, no matter where you work. Make your technology work for you and steer your business as you focus on increasing trust with customers and expressing care and support for a weary workforce. 

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