COVID-19: How to prepare for the reopening of your office


What are the changes that real estate brokers will have to implement in their personal space management strategy, to grow their business in a post-Coronavirus world?

Once the Coronavirus lockdown is lifted and we are permitted to get back to work, each industry will face its own unique challenges. Owing to the lasting impact of the pandemic, these businesses, including real estate brokerages, will have to come up with effective solutions to stay relevant. Here’s a look at the changes that real estate brokers will have to implement, in their personal space management strategy, to grow their business in a post-Coronavirus world.

 

How to start planning to return to work?

While there may be suggestions aplenty, it is first important to ascertain what should not be done. “In absentia, the office has become a facility based on stasis. It is not just the buildings that are frozen in time but the very idea of the buildings too. That so much energy has been dedicated to the quick fix, to resume the life suddenly locked down, shows us that there is a considered desire to pretend that none of this lockdown malarkey ever happened,” says Neil Usher, a global workspace design and author of the book The Elemental Workplace, in his recent article titled The Office-In Search of its mojo.

Making arrangements to read the body temperature of each staff member at the entry point and creating seating arrangements that ensure appropriate and safe distance is maintained among the workers, would be a fair starting points and so would be the sneeze guard, desks with in-built hand sanitisers and plexiglass barriers. Companies worldwide are busy engaging with office interior experts, to get quick makeovers for their office spaces.

However, these measures alone cannot solve the various problems that business are now confronted with. Besides preparing the building to welcome the staff in the post-pandemic world, the more complicated task lies in preparing the staff.

 

How businesses can prepare to go back to the office

 

COVID-19: How to prepare for the reopening of your office

 

Communication with the employees

Convincing your staff to come back to the office, will be a major challenge, especially since previous research indicate that around 16% of flu transmission takes place in the office. Hence, a lot will depend on how effectively you communicate with them and prepare them to get back to work. Be mindful of the fact that in case of attrition, the average cost to hire new staff would be much higher than the price you might pay to rearrange your office.

 

Office rules in a post-lockdown era

While employees may have been used to a certain office conduct before the pandemic, many habits will need to change, now. One of your key responsibilities of employers, would be to make your staff conscious about these changes and to ensure that they adhere to the new social distancing protocols.

Sharing their lunch, is something your employees may have to stop. The same may be true of keeping their personal belongings at their workstations. With innumerable small and big changes that we all will have to make, to keep the workplace safe, the employer’s role as a communicator and moderator, will be crucial.

 

Allowing remote working practices

Contrary to what many may believe, remote working will not replace the traditional office. Your staff would be willing to come back to office, once they are assured that it is safe to step in. In this scheme of things, remote working practices will become crucial towards unlocking the potential of the office.

 

Adopting a policy of rotation / working in shifts

Another effective way to lower the chances of contamination, is to ensure rotational working shifts. However, this may be hard to achieve for the many offices in India that have followed strict and fixed working hours.

 

Changes in HR policies after COVID-19

Human resource policies can be adjusted such that sick employees are sent on paid leave, to reduce the chances of transmission.

 

Likely changes in office spaces after the Coronavirus

Practices that are likely to be discardedNew protocols that are likely to be adopted
  • Shared desks
  • Elbow to elbow seating
  • Face-to-face seating
  • Frequent board room meetings
  • Shared eating spaces
  • Masks
  • Sanitisers
  • Plexiglass barrier
  • Cubicles
  • Hands-free faucets and dispensers

 

FAQs

How can businesses reduce COVID-19 risks?

Businesses can reduce the risk of Coronavirus infection at their workplace by ensuring social distancing, sanitising common touch surfaces regularly and encouraging remote working and rotational shifts wherever possible.

How will office designs change after Coronavirus?

Wellness and health are likely to take centre stage in office designs in future, with technology gaining preference and dense seating arrangements being avoided.

 

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