The lockdowns triggered by the virus have put the world economy in a bad state. Many businesses have pulled down their shutters, never to raise them again.
It’s quite obvious that businesses are longing to resume operations. They're waiting to return to office. Employees are concerned about losing their jobs to the crisis but are also worried about their health.
But, there seems to be no end to the pandemic in sight till a vaccine is invented, manufactured in the billions, and made available for everyone to be inoculated. And, with the onset of monsoons in many countries, the reaction of the virus is yet to be determined.
Any business planning a return to office needs to take a lot of things into consideration.
There’s a lot of changes that we’re going to have to make- both regarding our infrastructure and our mindsets.
We, at peopleHum wanted to help out. We wanted to create a guide for businesses to make these changes.
And so, we wrote a comprehensive e-book, addressing everything that we felt should be taken into consideration while framing a plan to return to office in a safe manner.
Business Continuity Planning (BCP)
You need to create a business continuity plan and appoint an owner for that plan. You’re also going to need to create a Rapid Response Team or a task force.
Here are a few important things to keep in mind:
- Update: Brush up your business continuity plan
- Test: Invoke a full test of continuity operations if you did not get a chance to do so before operations went into lockdown
- Complete contact lists: Location, primary residence, phone, email, public email, social tags, status and rejoining dates, any status on issues faced or provisions needed
- Determine the location of employees: Determine where individual employees are and how they plan to come back
- Invoke call trees: Run tests on-call trees for simulated emergency response
- Ensure customer support lines are open: Customers will help bring back the business, plan around customer service readiness and procedures to engage
- A positive case determination: Run scenarios for evacuation and medical emergency notifications if a case is tested positive
- Medical contingency and evac: Add and reinforce your medical contingency procedures resulting in an evac plan activation procedures to your BCP plan
Planning the return to office
You can’t let everyone go in at the same time. That’d be a recipe for disaster.
So, who goes in first?
peopleHum recommends an operational criticality approach with the following order of decreasing priority.
Adjusting to the new normal
The standard operating manual of the entire organization will need to be recalibrated to adjust to the new normal.
Here are a few important considerations:
The Hiring imperative
- Hiring will be key to grow out. Of course, this is after the knee jerk reaction to slashing costs has been completed and short term layoff cycles. Hire selective, the talent wars might be cooling down since the brakes on all types of economic growth has been so sudden
- Talent might be available at a reasonable cost since market opportunities will be limited
- Businesses who survive and come out stronger, with long term vision, operating in growth markets and with stability will attract the best talent
The employee engagement imperative
- You will find people being more productive when connected from home since work distractions are fewer
- Give them buffer time to walk around or run errands between meetings
- Care with connecting and listening to them will become more important as you focus on employee centricity
- Asking their opinions on issues and resolutions or changes will keep them engaged. They will feel they have a voice and are not forgotten since they are not in close proximity to walk over to leadership or attend meetings in person
The performance measurement imperative
- A single platform that allows you to set up goals and OKRs to redirect the organizational directions. Ascriptions of weights and measures to reach such goals
- The resetting of the performance management process to ensure remote ability to track, monitor and calibrate will become important
- 1-on-1s are key and essential to keep everyone aligned to the goals and key items being delivered effectively despite the remote nature of work
The technology imperative
- Tech, digital, and automation will soon become the backbone of every business. With millions of touchpoints and interactions, automation is a sure shot enabler.
- A cloud-first based approach will become the de facto way to run and manage your business’ needs.
- Cost reduction and doing more for less will be the operational standard
- Virtual technologies, be it collaboration, video conferencing, chatbots, people management, supply chain platforms, ERP’s, will be relooked at for ease of use and management
- Tech fests will either no longer be in fashion or move online
- Data and AI will become critical and central in decision making
- Social will penetrate the organizations with people platforms providing a social experience-based approach to people management
It’s going to be a bumpy road ahead and we need to brace ourselves. We need to plan in advance and protect our employees, our businesses and ourselves.
Dive deeper into the return to office plan. Go through our e-book for an in-depth explanation.