Back to the Office? What Changes to Expect

woman wearing a headset working at the office

Now that the Covid-19 pandemic is winding down, employees return to the office. It can be an exciting feeling after years of working from home. You can interact with your colleagues easier in the office compared to video calls, where internet connection issues and technical errors make it challenging for employees to collaborate. Many companies already have their employees back in the office, especially in countries free from the Covid-19 virus.

However, It will not be the same office as two years ago. There are some changes to the workplace setup that employees have to get used to in the new normal. For one, offices may be a bit more sparsely populated than before. In addition, people may be working from home more often in a week to reduce the risk of infection. If you are among the workforce going back to the office, here are a few changes to expect to the new normal.

Social Distancing Protocols

Social distancing protocols in offices and other business establishments still need to be in place when returning to the office. Employers should have a plan for when workers return, and everyone needs to be on board with the program. For example, employers may designate one day a week for all employees to work from home. If someone feels sick or has any symptoms, they can quickly isolate themselves and not spread the virus to other employees.

Here are a few steps to follow when it comes to social distancing protocols in the office:

  • Wearing face masks
  • Keeping alcohol, disinfectants, and sanitation items
  • Maintaining a minimum of three feet distance when interacting with employees
  • Encouraging employees to work from home when possible
  • Reducing the number of people in meetings
  • Staggering shifts to avoid contact with others

For some companies, these steps may seem like common sense. However, it is essential to review them so that everyone is on the same page when returning to the office. The entire office layout and design will also have to change. 100% capacity in the new normal is not the same as before. It will be an unfamiliar environment, but it is necessary for employee health and safety.

Digital Solutions
employees conducting a meeting using videoconferencing tools

With social distancing protocols in place, many employers are turning to digital advancements to prevent employee interaction as much as possible in the office. It can include video conferencing tools instead of in-person meetings and digital programs that streamline collaboration processes.

Technology can help with social distancing in the workplace. Other digital solutions include:

  • Virtual reality for training and meetings
  • Augmented reality for safety and training
  • Telecommuting software

Employers should investigate the different types of digital solutions available to help with social distancing in the office. That way, everyone can be comfortable with the setup and feel productive when working from home. However, investing in those technologies simultaneously can be expensive. You might have to pursue those projects one at a time to avoid financial struggles. Fortunately, most digital solutions are significantly less costly than their traditional counterparts.

Covid-19 Testing and Regulations

Companies are in the early stages of development when it comes to pandemic preparedness. It is due to the fast-moving and rapidly-changing nature of Covid-19. It is a good time for companies to revisit their policies and procedures to ensure that they are up to date. One area where many companies are struggling is with Covid-19 testing. Many labs are struggling, so it can take weeks or even months to get a test result.

In the meantime, many employers are turning to self-testing. The strategy is where employees take their temperatures and track any other symptoms they may be experiencing. While this is helpful in the early stages of an outbreak, it is not a long-term solution.

Another area where employers are struggling is contact tracing. This process identifies people who have been in close contact with someone who has Covid-19. It can be challenging to do this manually, so many companies turn to technology to help with this process. There are a few different contact tracing apps that are available. They use Bluetooth to track close contacts and send alerts if someone tests positive for Covid-19. It is a helpful tool for employers who want to keep their employees safe.

As more information about Covid-19 becomes available, employers will need to update their policies and procedures accordingly. It is good to have a Covid-19 pandemic plan in place to prepare for anything.

Partnering with medical establishments that provide rapid antigen tests will be ideal. If an employee is exhibiting symptoms, the response needs to be quick to ensure that containment procedures will be in place. It can be challenging to prevent the spread of the virus at the office, but it should be the top priority in the new normal.

While Covid-19 is still a threat, it’s essential to be excited about the office because that means you’re alive! It also means that you have an opportunity to contribute your best work and make a difference in the life of others. But as we said before, there are some things employers need to do differently now. The adjustments mentioned above will take top priority.

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