What will returning to the office look like after lockdown?
With the COVID-19 lockdown beginning to ease, many businesses are starting to consider what a return to the office looks like.
As an IT solutions provider, we were able to move fairly seamlessly to remote working and ‘business as usual’ could still be, for the most part, achieved. That said, across our business over 75% of employees have expressed a desire to return to the office when possible; even if it’s only for just one or two days a week. How do your employees feel about returning to the office?
For some people, home working still isn’t conducive to being productive. Others might want a break from their children, and for some its simply about physically collaborating with colleagues again. Whatever the reasons, we’ve put together our tips to make the transition back to the office that little bit easier:
1 – COVID-19-proof your office
Your top priority should be to ensure a safe environment for employees to return to. The government has published guidance for all types of workspaces here. Complete a risk assessment to ensure that risk of transmission is minimal and ensure that your staff feel comfortable to return.
2 – Respect individual preferences
Returning to the office shouldn’t be mandatory; don’t force anyone back to the office who doesn’t want to go yet. Microsoft 365 as the heart of our IT system, so working in the office is no different to working from home when it comes to collaboration. Ensure that you allow and respect each person’s decisions and keep in mind that, with the right IT solution, home or office makes no difference to productivity and communication for many businesses.
3 – Maintain social distancing
Everyone should adhere to the social distancing rules in the workplace, which might mean some changes! Some practices to consider implementing include:
- Using ‘back-to-back’ or ‘side-to-side’ seating arrangements.
- Adding screens or barriers to separate people from each other.
- Establishing an “office rota” to minimise the number of people each person has contact with (publishing this on SharePoint or Yammer allows everyone to see it).
- Staggering start and finish times to avoid crowding in the doorways.
- Continuing to use Microsoft Teams for meetings. If meetings do occur in person, maintain at least 2m distance, or even “meet & walk” outside.
- Increasing the availability of hand sanitiser and the frequency of surface cleaning, particularly in a shared kitchen.
4 – Contact tracing
Ahead of the NHS contact app being released (due the end of the month), there are already solutions available in the App Stores that can help people to identify if they have been in close contact with someone who later tests positive for COVID-19. These solutions can provide additional comfort for employees returning to the office.
5 – Review your IT and data security
As with any major event, the “bad actors” on the internet have been quick to try and take advantage of COVID-19; there has been an increase in cyber-attacks such as email and web-based malware and phishing scams looking to target unwitting users.
There has never been a better time to review your business IT security, and you should ensure that the solution you have in place include:
- Identity protection such as multi-factor authentication and password managers
- Data Backup for all devices and services, including Microsoft 365 – Gemini-DP
- Email filtering to stop malware, spam and phishing attacks – Vanguard ITSM
- Web security to intercept if users are tricked in to visiting a malicious site
- Device management for easy maintenance and remote wipe if a device is lost or stolen