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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Here’s what the post-pandemic workplace looks like

From removing close contact scenarios to organising health awareness initiatives, reducing travel stress for employees to learning new technology tools to support productivity, budgeting for the required resources and its management, are now some of the most crucial tasks.

New Delhi | Updated: May 12, 2020 7:18:25 pm
workplace, office reopen, coronavirus india lockdown 4, coronavirus latest update, work from home, Offices will have to change their policies for post-covid era (Photo credit: Pixabay.com)

— Vikram Ahuja

We are innately social animals, and the in-person collaboration and knowledge sharing that office environments provide will often outweigh the comforts of home. It is also where we do a lot of our best work. US Workplace survey 2020 shows that, when given the choice of where to work, 74 per cent of people still prefer best-designed workspaces over working remotely.

Most of us are going to return to our offices post the pandemic. With our newly discovered sense of community, we will need to put accountability back into the workplace. HRs and CXOs can begin by thinking about these important issues:

What will the post-pandemic workplace environment look like?

We are experiencing a lot of changes in our society with innovations in the economy, volatility in trade, and now, the pandemic. Since almost everything shut down, an emergency brake has been forced on the economy. Several people have lost their jobs, and others are attempting to figure out their way of working from home.

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This disturbance paves for a revision of our approach to work, learning, and healthcare. In fact, it is a reset on everything. Management and employees are experimenting with a new kind of work culture that suits them. Current workplace trends have evolved over the years. Enclosed offices gave way to cubicles, which gave way to open concepts without walls, which now have given way to remote interactions. The most recent spaces are a mix of all three.

Companies will bring in the required changes while the staff comes back to the workplace. These include reframing health, communication, travel, finance, and HR policies. From removing close contact scenarios to organising health awareness initiatives, reducing travel stress for employees’ to learning new technology tools to support productivity, meanwhile budgeting for the required resources and its management, are now some of the most crucial tasks.

What action should companies take to get back on track?

When the economy revives and employees begin heading back to the workplace post-coronavirus pandemic, offices will have to be redesigned, prioritising additional space, sanitation, and flexibility with a lot of employees functioning from home and office on a semi-regular basis. Key changes include antimicrobial materials, better air filtration, monitoring temperatures at entry points, and desks spaced to follow social distancing.

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What will the operating system look like?

Often a potentially revolutionary platform fails to gain traction not because of technology issues, but for business reasons. It is too pricey to adopt, or the requirement is not quite there. Covid-19 has pushed the majority of the employees into virtual offices that would have happened over a much longer period of time. It is clear that web and web-based tools including social networking tools provide channels for communicators to reach wide audiences. Some of these tools are Zoom, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn among others.

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Why does the company need a post-pandemic plan?

A company needs a post-pandemic plan as business continuity is crucial. A business continuity plan is an outline to perform once the emergency ends. Your plan should include health, safety, and management components.

— Document guidelines for management and business decisions – keep in mind, anyone can get sick.

— Make a decision about when to open, when to close for clients. Provide hand washing facilities and sanitisation. Create small working groups.

— Consider postponing or canceling face-to-face meetings as well as unnecessary travel.

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— Increase the distance between people (for example, install a protective barrier for those working with the public, increase the distance between workstations, use larger meeting rooms)

— Create a pandemic management team that assigns who will do what tasks, establishes a chain of command, coordinates prevention activities, etc.

Keeping these things in mind will help companies bounce back and motivate employees to come to the office. The post-pandemic era of workplaces is going to different from before but the expectation of work remains the same from all employees. They need to be productive and innovative while they are at work. Thus it is in the best interest of everyone, companies and employees alike, to take all possible precautions, and reinvigorate our work for better outcomes.

The author is co-founder, Talent500 by ANSR

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