Simon Berg from Ceros talks about consideration of scenarios before making a move to a physical office model from WFH/Remote Work with his interactive checklist.
The pandemic has taken a toll on companies as they determine when to return to the office, if they return at all. Companies like Facebook, Apple and Twitter have all said that work from home will continue until mid-2021. Now, the question is not when we will return, but why. Is it even worth it to return to the office if it’s not the same — or better — than it was pre-pandemic? If the experience, culture, and atmosphere we remember from March isn’t the same when we go back due to social distancing and masks, could there be a backlash to returning to the office, and have a negative effect on employee morale?
To help business leaders decide when and if it’s safe to return, our team at Ceros put together a handy checklist of considerations to make before returning to the office and strategies for how to navigate the unknown waters. This includes everything from whether or not to take the elevator to scheduling meetings in the office.
As we head into the new year, this is a perfect time to evaluate barriers that could prevent us from returning to office life as we know it.
Let’s dive deeper into each of these components.
First up is the commute to work. Can all of your employees — and we mean all of them — safely make it to work? It’s important to consider everyone who has to commute to work, especially those who live in a city and may rely on public transportation. If they don’t feel safe or comfortable riding a public train or bus, don’t force them.
For those who rely on an elevator to get to their office space, consider what that means for employee safety. Can they successfully social distance? Are there sanitation protocols that are being followed? You don’t want employees riding the elevator in fear that the last person to touch the buttons didn’t wash their hands.
We all miss our in-person connections in the office — random lunch outings, spontaneous happy hours, and late-night brainstorming sessions. Unfortunately, even if you’re deciding to reopen the office, consider that connections likely aren’t coming back for a while. If your culture thrives on these personal connections, saying hello six feet apart and with masks on might do more harm than good for morale.
Client or guest meetings
If you reopen your office tomorrow, will clients or guests feel comfortable coming in? Will your employees feel comfortable with guests coming in?
Similar to the phrase “this meeting could have been an email”, consider if your in-person meeting can be done via Zoom for everyone’s safety.
I know, I know, another Zoom meeting. But it’s not worth opening your office if you’re hesitant to let people in.
These physical experiences aren’t the only thing to consider when deciding whether to return to the office. The mental state of your employees must be taken into consideration, too. Take time to speak to each employee and gauge how they’re doing. Additionally, remain transparent with everyone regarding your plan of attack. Where are you in the process, and what’s a realistic reopening date? By remaining transparent with your employees, you build a level of trust with them as they know you’re looking out for their best interests.
As we head into 2021 and beyond, I predict we will never return to the standard Monday – Friday, 9-5, in-person schedule. Ever. As a society, we’ve become accustomed to the flexibility of working from home. We won’t want to give that up if, and when, this passes. Instead, the office will become a social setting where we gather around a coffee pot and share stories.
Are you ready to reopen? Check out the full, interactive checklist to see where you stand on safely returning to the office.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Simon Berg is CEO of Ceros, a technology company with a cloud-based platform that empowers brands like Red Bull, United, CondeNast, and Universal to create bespoke digital experiential content without coding. Simon’s path to CEO has been unusual: after design school turned him down, he started working on an agency production floor at age 16, helping magazine publisher clients design and produce their print issues. As publishing moved into the digital era, Simon became a master of craft across both print and digital, which served as a catalyst for his 20-year ladder-climbing journey to CEO of the same agency: Group FMG (now BORN).