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A Roadmap For New Zealand Businesses Returning To The Office Post-Coronavirus

As the Coronavirus lockdown restrictions lift in New Zealand, it is essential that your business has a robust plan for workers returning to the physical office.

A well-thought-out and communicated plan is important for employees’ mental and physical health and safety. And just because you can return to the office now, doesn’t mean you should rush straight back in.

Read on for our easy 6-step roadmap for a stress-free return to “normality” for you and your team.

Step One: Survey Your Team

Before making any big decisions, consider asking your team how they would like to approach the return to work situation.

Survey your employees with questions such as:

  • What did you enjoy about working from home?
  • What didn’t you like about working from home?
  • How would you rate your productivity when working from home vs. working in the office?
  • How would you rate your work/life balance when working from home vs. working in the office?
  • How would you rate your mental health when working from home vs. working in the office?
  • Would you prefer a more flexible working arrangement in terms of hours, location and/or days?
  • When would you feel safe returning to the office?

Based on the responses, you may find that your employees prefer a blended or completely remote approach to working that may prove beneficial to your business. For example, a fully or partially remote workforce may mean an increase in productivity and a decrease in overhead costs.

Step Two: Review And Embed Your Learnings

After checking in with your employees, ask your leadership team for feedback on their teams’ performance when working from home.

Perhaps one of your leaders found that their team prefer to start their day at 7 am and finish a little earlier. Or perhaps another team has a new favourite internal communications software such as Microsoft Teams that has increased productivity.

Alternatively, you might find that one team really struggled to work from home as their tasks involve high levels of communication or client meetings. Other teams may have found they had an increased number of employees taking sick days.

Make sure you bring the positive back to the office with you, and leave the negative behind.

Step Three: Rethink The Physical Office

Social (or rather, physical) distancing is still very important, even as businesses return to work. Consider:

  • Adding additional space between desks
  • Supplying hand sanitizer
  • Displaying signage on how to keep healthy in the workplace
  • Limiting visitor or contractor access to the office
  • Keeping collaboration spaces to a 10-person maximum
  • Increase housekeeping and cleaning during the day

Step Four: A Phased Return

Due to the 1.5 metre distancing rule, it is unlikely your whole workforce will be able to return to the office. Even if you have enough room in your workplace, public transport limits may restrict access for workers. Some may not feel comfortable returning straight away.

A phased return can help here, for example:

  • Phase one, consider allowing employees to choose whether they return to the office or not.
  • Phase two, consider a rostered return, with employees doing 2-3 days per week in the office or one week on, one week off.

Step Five: Maintain Remote Working

It’s likely that you will need to maintain some level of remote working in your organisation for the remainder of 2020. But consider whether you and your employees may want to extend remote working far beyond that. If working from home has been a positive experience and you have found your employees are happier and more productive at home, it may be important for improved business operations and staff retention to continue to provide flexible options.

Step Six: Review IT Infrastructure And Security Needs

Now that flexible working is becoming more prevalent, and part of your team will continue to work from home, it’s important to review your IT infrastructure needs. This ensures your sensitive business information remains safe and secure and employees can continue to do their jobs efficiently. It’s also worth considering long-term home set-ups for some employees who will now work from home either full or part-time.

If you’re considering your back-to-work strategy post-COVID19, please get in touch with the team at Finite920. We can help you develop your phased return, and connect you with great employees who will fit your new working culture.



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