12th Jun 2020
3 Min Read

GUIDE | Re-opening workplaces. Have you asked these questions?

Russell Norton
Russell Norton
Culture & Insights

Many organisations are working through the practicalities of re-opening their places of work: including offices, call centres and shops.

It‘s unlikely any site will return exactly as they were at the start of the year, but they do offer some important respite for those who‘ve not been able to work from home and some hope for businesses keen to re-open their doors to customers.

Throughout this next phase of change, maintaining the goodwill, motivation and engagement of employees is just as important as it has been throughout the lockdown - some might say even more so, as we ask individuals to face potential risks, and take responsibility for keeping themselves and others safe.

For HR and internal communications professionals, there are questions to ask, not only around safety and logistics, but also around pyschological comfort and wellbeing.

We‘ve looked at this through the lens of our 4 key areas of expertise, to build a holistic picture of questions and actions for HR and IC teams planning the return to offices and sites.

Don‘t forget to download the free planning template at the end.

What you need to ask

  • Where do your people want to work? ​
  • How do they get to and from work – and what impact does this have?​
  • Who can’t work from home, or needs to be on site to be productive?​
  • In terms of getting work done, what’s working well right now? What’s difficult?​

What you can do

  • Run regular pulse surveys with samples of your population​
  • Ask questions about work styles and preferences, as well as physical conditions​
  • Map the full days of some typical employee personas, to identify the touch-points to consider

What you need to ask

  • What are your people working towards right now? To what extent does their work location impact their ability to contribute to these goals?​
  • How are your customer touchpoints affected by lockdown restrictions? What can you do to make them feel as safe, hygienic and trustworthy as possible?

What you can do

  • Work with leaders to clarify the short and long-term goals of your organisation​
  • Mark messages and instructions on a matrix of urgency and importance to help people prioritise accordingly​
  • Work with front-line teams to optimise the experience of clients and customers​

What you need to ask

  • What are the longer-term impacts of having a team split across on-site and virtual workspaces? ​
  • How do you maintain fairness of access to leaders, decision makers and opportunities?​
  • How do you mark cultural moments (events, recognition, celebrations) across physical and virtual locations?

What you can do

  • Review guidance for line-managers for the amount of time to spend with their teams​
  • Work closely with HR to ensure that any biases based on physical proximity are not allowed to effect decisions​
  • Ask your people what’s important to them in terms of culture, and challenge yourself to introduce inclusive ways of running these

What you need to ask

  • What physical signage and ambient media do you need to encourage the right behaviours?​
  • How does having a split audience impact your communication plans? ​
  • How do you maintain two-way dialogue and collaboration?​
  • Which channels or events are no longer effective – e.g. physical Town Halls, team meetings

What you can do

  • Use circles to mark where people should stand, these are easier to follow than boxes or grids​
  • Review your plans and build in time to publish messages across multiple channels to reach everyone​
  • Virtual meetings may still be required, even for teams physically on site – to maintain social distancing and remain inclusive. Produce new guidance on virtual etiquette

Download our handy template to help with your plans

Our guide to re-opening workplaces is available as a template to help you and your team plan your activities and communications as your employees return to the workplace.

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