Transitioning Back to a “Regular” Work Environment

by Mike O'Neill

When COVID came along, it was a shock to everyone. Businesses of all kinds closed and transitioned to remote work or limited their access in some way. Remote work was an abrupt change to the typical working environment for most everyone. The transition had to occur quickly, and it had to be flexible for the following year.

Now the issue is how to transition businesses back to a familiar work environment — a safe one.  Returning to the way it was pre-COVID is not a possibility.  Life has changed us all so much and how we conduct business.  What businesses return to will be an ever-changing environment.  

Let’s explore what transitioning back to a “regular” work environment means for businesses.

Remote Work is the New “Regular”

Before COVID, everything was business as usual.  People enjoyed activities such as going out to dinner, going out to the movies, parks, playgrounds, and more.  Students went to school Monday through Friday, and parents went to work.

COVID living no longer resembles life as we all know it.  Restaurants are just beginning to open back up, and much of what they do involves outdoor dining.  Some movie theaters still aren’t open.  States mandate gatherings cannot be more than a certain number of people.  

This number varies by state and whether the group is indoors or outdoors with appropriate social distancing.  Some schools are still in hybrid mode, with many families opting for complete remote learning.

The “Regular” World Is Changing

Although COVID has heavily impacted the last year, we are moving towards a new future.  Vaccinations are the key to lifting restrictions, and there is a huge push to make that happen as quickly and safely as possible.  

No one wants to risk an outbreak, so safety measures need consideration to move forward.  Businesses want to get their employees back into the office, and employees want to feel comfortable doing so.

Considerations to Consider When Transitioning Back to a “Regular” Work Environment

Safety is always a consideration but even more so with the pandemic.  There are physical and behavioral changes that should take place for employees to return to regular work.  Employers should want their employees to feel as comfortable as possible when returning to the workplace.

Consider the Physical Changes to the Workplace

  • Plexiglass barriers
  • Masks
  • Face Shields
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Workspace separation
  • Disinfectant

Consider the Behavioral Changes to the Workplace

  • Employees keep appropriate social distance between themselves
  • Everyone responsible for disinfecting and cleaning
  • Stay home when feeling ill and follow CDC guidelines
  • Encourage vaccination

Consider Mental Health Services for Employees

This pandemic has heavily impacted many people.  Families struggle with isolation and children in a remote learning environment.  Additionally, in many cases, one or both parents make significant life changes to meet their family’s needs.  

Employers need to make sure everyone has access to mental health services, and an Employee Assistance Plan is the perfect place to start.  Anxiety and fear have found their way into many families, and some have even experienced death to someone they love.  They will need help to get through the next phase successfully.  

Consider the Modified Use of Technology

While working to return employees to the “regular” workplace, there is still a significant need for technology.  Everyone may be back in their offices, but large meetings may need to happen via Zoom to address social separation issues.  Plus, now that we know we can be very productive even remotely, it makes sense to utilize these technologies to increase productivity.  

Working from home has also taught businesses to use electronic means for document signing, faxing, scanning, and other office processes.  Couriers are no longer needed to get information from one location to another as long as we continue to use technology judiciously.  

Although desktop computers are best for use in the office, they are not mobile.  Laptops are here to stay.  Determine what is best for your business, such as laptops or Chromebooks.  Current technology will allow your business to prepare for any future change.

Consider Planning for the Future

Most of us have never been through a pandemic before.  Now that we have lived with this pandemic, we need to develop contingency plans if we need to go into lockdown again.  We had no warning to plan for the COVID shift, but now we can prepare for this possibility properly while also having learned valuable lessons from March 2020. 

Let the Professional’s Help You Transition Back to a “Regular” Work Environment

We can help manage the complexity and help you navigate this change by working with you as an entire organization.  We have decades of experience helping business owners just like you get unstuck and find solutions to tough problems.  Our solutions include a combination of tools and custom strategies that will work best for your organization and help you with your most pressing issues. 

Don’t wait a moment longer! Contact us today and let the professionals at Bench Builder’s help!
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