Reopening Your Workplace Safely and Successfully Requires Adaptability and A Reimagination of The New Normal
— This memo is part of a series of articles and perspectives prepared by Accel-KKR in relation to COVID-19 impacts. —
Many businesses and communities are actively working toward when and how to safely reopen their spaces. But let’s face it: leaders are encountering more questions than answers on the right ways to go about this complex topic. In this memo, we want to offer some perspectives from subject experts and thought leaders.
Things to Consider:
- Regulatory guidance and community readiness: Pay close attention to regulatory guidance for when and how you can reopen. On top of that, layer on “local community readiness”: after all, your employees and customers are part of their local communities and may feel inclined to weigh their responsibilities not just as an individual but also as a family unit and a community member at large. Companies that rush this decision without care and worker buy-in may face unwanted scrutiny.
- Physical space: Likely your office is in a commercial building shared by other tenants: robust conversations need to be had with the landlord about their general preparedness. Be amply clear on their hygiene and cleaning protocols, especially in common areas like elevators and lobbies. Within your office space, list the actions you need to take e.g. a temporary ban on business visitors, limiting the number of employees onsite, reconfiguring floorplan etc.
- Employee wellness: Give abundant consideration to this. Before enacting any reopening plan, run an employee survey to gauge the appetite and readiness in your workforce to return. Working parents may need extra time to find daytime care for their kids, others might have health conditions they are worried about but can’t directly disclose to you. If your workforce is working well remotely, maybe returning to the workplace is not as urgent for your business – embrace that advantage as not all businesses have that option to offer their people.
- Liabilities: When employees do come back, understand what kind of health checks you are permitted to conduct to ensure everyone’s health and safety. What are your new work travel policies? What are your obligations if an employee becomes sick? How about hosting customer events in the near future: what are your responsibilities to attendees?
- Change in demand: We would be remiss not to point out that a large number of industries will see long-lasting changes in demand out of this disruption. This may be due to a number of internal and external factors like an enduring change in customer behavior, improved employee productivity, efficient business processes, or successful adoption of automation. Whether these changes are temporary or permanent is also not clear. What is clear though is that as a leader, you need to take a good, hard look at what your business needs to move forward, and not merely to pick up from where it was before.
Additional Sources: Reopening America; Back To Work; FM:Systems Safe Space Playbook; Leading With Purpose (Revenue Orgs); UK Parliament COVID-19 News; Workforce & Employment (Legal); Safe Work Australia; The World’s Workplaces; Resources for Real Estate