How to reopen your office safely post COVID-19

Max Shepherd-Cross
April 22, 2021

Here at Officely we've now reopened over 200 offices since the pandemic and transitioned their workforces to hybrid.

We've learnt a lot over the process and I've put together an ebook to share those learnings. I've summarised the key points below, you can access the full report here.

We have found offices reopen in two phases. The first is the initial reopening, during this phase your primary concern should be keeping your team safe. The second phase is embracing hybrid work and making it work effectively for your organisation.

Phase 1 - Initial Reopening

Reopening your office on an opt-in basis. Your principal concern here should be creating a safe working environment. We have found the three most important requirements for keeping your team safe are:

  1. Capacity management - capping the number of people in the office per day to ensure physical distancing.
  2. Health surveys - daily health attestations sent to those going into the office confirming the employee is symptom-free and hasn't been in contact with a high-risk individual.
  3. Contact tracing - you need an accurate list of everyone who has been in the office. A spreadsheet can work for smaller orgs, however they quickly get unwieldy. The key is getting 100% adoption, just one employee who enters the office without recording their name can bring everything down. In our experience, stand-alone apps don't get 100% adoption due to the friction of downloading/signing up. We have built our contact tracing within Slack, reducing the friction as much as possible and getting company wide adoption by default.

Phase 2 - Hybrid Work

In the hopefully not too distant future, your attention will turn to embracing hybrid work and making it effective for your organisation.

The first question to answer is whether you will implement a top-down strategy (leadership telling employees how often they are expected in the office) or bottom-up (employees deciding what works best for them). The answer comes down to your culture.

Through trial and error we have found the key pillars of a successful hybrid work set up are:

  1. Visibility of who is in the office - having an easily accessible and searchable list of who is in the office each day. This encourages collaboration and office attendance.
  2. Team coordination - generally speaking, employees go back to the office to collaborate with colleagues. You need to make it really easy for them to schedule their team into the office all at the same time. We have found that if individual teams are split up with some working at home and some in the office, it doesn't work.

I hope you find the above useful, we're still in the early days of the hybrid work experiment so we're learning new things all the time. If you'd like to dive into anything in more detail, feel free to reach out at [email protected]

You can download the full report here.

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Max Shepherd-Cross
Max is one of the cofounders and CEO of Officely.

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