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Planning for a return to the office

Tue 16th Jun 20

This week’s the week retailers have been waiting, and working hard, for as they open their doors to the public for the first time since we went into lockdown three months ago. A great step forward into life after – or at least, life living with – coronavirus.

Offices, though, remain closed, and a date for reopening is, as yet, uncertain. As our workforce remains working from home or furloughed, it’s important to keep plans for reopening alive, constantly reviewing and improving to ensure we’re ready to return as soon as we’re able. Executive Chairman, Tim Ryan, tells us more…

What will be the new normal?

Of course, none of us know what the new normal will be. We’re already seeing the evidence of this in the shops that have opened their doors today. Capacity management will be essential, with queuing systems in place and look but don’t touch policies most everywhere.

Offices will be equally affected and work paces will need careful reassessment and planning to allow minimum social distancing to be maintained. Equally, hygiene needs to be reviewed to ensure sanitisation measures are easily accessible.

Here are some considerations:

Planning for opening

Are your offices fit for purpose? Are your people happy to come back into the office? Do you have the health and safety equipment you need? All of these are questions you’ll need to ask your management team when making your back to work plan.

  • Plan ahead – create a return to work strategy - the preparation points below can help you with this
  • Personnel – lay out who will return and who might remain working from home - this may be a little like creating a table plan with many different iterations before you get it spot on.
  • Review – continuously reviewing and improving your plans is essential as new government guidelines emerge and your business' unique ways of working settle in.
  • Develop – learn from businesses that have already returned, just as the retailers returning this week have been able to learn from those who have remained open.

Making preparations

In order to prepare your office, you’ll need to have a number of supplies and processes in place, as well as a brand new set of office rules.

  • PPE – you’ll need to review requirements, make a plan, and ensure you have a supply for the office.
  • Cleaning protocols – put a clear plan in place and ensure you have the staff and supplies to cover it.
  • Meeting planning – work out where your will meetings be held and how many people can attend.
  • Adding screening – you may need to install screening between desks. Clear perspex may be an option.
  • Sickness procedure – make sure you have a clear procedure in place so everyone knows what to do if they have Covid-19 symptoms.

Communicating for confidence

As a business manager, it’s your job to make sure the health and safety measures in place are robust enough not only to meet regulations, but to make everyone feel reassured and secure. And to make sure that those colleagues who remain unsure are given the time to return with confidence.

  • Internal comms – keep your teams in the know so that they understand your plan and future processes.
  • Employee training – make sure your people are as confident with new equipment or ways of working as you are.
  • Prioritising wellbeing – ensure your staff are confident of the measures you’ve put in place.

At Ryan’s, while we’re working from home and on hand to help our customers, we’re looking forward to being able to return to the office as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Until then, working from home remains the safest solution.