The uncertainty, the stress, the helplessness… We’ve all experienced them in the last year, and CEOs of companies big and small took the hit hard. I know this since being the CEO of a JS development company meant I was responsible for keeping my employees and my business safe.
Now that the number of COVID-19 cases is dropping and vaccination is underway in many countries, more people are starting to wonder if it’s possible to get back to our office lives. But you and I both know the virus isn’t going anywhere. All we can do is adapt, keeping our employees healthy while the business is running.
Here are my tips on maintaining the office spirit and employee health without making people come in five days a week.
Review your workplace policies
But when the pandemic hit, these policies had to be quickly rewritten to reflect the global recommendations of working from home for as long as possible. And now that we’ve accustomed to living in these conditions and many have already gained immunity to COVID-19, the policies have to be rewritten again.
Today’s CEOs should give their employees the freedom to choose. If they want to attend the office – okay; if they want to continue working remotely – that’s fine, too. As long as they can maintain their efficiency, people should not be told where to work from. I believe that ideally, employees should spend 2-3 days a week working from home or even attend the office only once a week for the most important meetings.
As a matter of fact, a research by Harvard Business School states that every 7th office worker would expect to work from home all the time, and most would like to have at least 2-3 days a week to work remotely. This is because, along with working from home, people are now used to not having to commute for hours, spending more time with their family, and having a better, longer, more refreshing sleep.
All this doesn’t mean office spaces will become redundant. People come to the office to communicate, generate ideas, and solve tasks together, not just work. So your best bet would be to allow unlimited remote days and give your employees the freedom to attend office as often as they want.
Improved health insurance
You can’t be responsible for the health of your employees, but you sure can help them improve it. While paying for the full course of the COVID-19 treatment for every sick employee might be too costly, covering at least 50% of the vaccine cost is quite doable (if your country doesn’t offer them for free, that is).
Why not also allow people to take more paid sick leaves and stop the virus from spreading in the office? It’s simple math: one employee that stays home until full recovery will not infect a dozen of their colleagues.
If your company has positions with jobs that can’t be done remotely, like on-prem data center maintenance, introduce staggered shifts to ensure at least 30% of workers attend the office to support normal operations. By the way, companies using serverless solutions are free of such concerns, so here’s food for thought.
Adjust your office space
Consider refitting your office with materials that can withstand regular cleaning with alcohol-based substances. Laminates and reprocessed plastics are much better than carpets and porous wood surfaces in that matter. Working air conditioning and UV-cleaning at the end of the day are also on the list of WHO recommendations for office spaces.
Instead of large open spaces, invest in smaller, well-ventilated cabinets to limit the potential infection spreading. And let’s not forget about the individual protection measures. Install more sinks to encourage people to wash their hands more often, make sure there's enough antiseptics for daily use, give out free protective masks, and keep thermal scanning devices near the entrance.
Replace pizza days with vitamin days
I know we all miss office celebrations and team-building sessions, but instead of gathering everyone over pizza, why not put a bowl of seasonal fruits and veggies in every kitchen? Taking a single apple or a watermelon slice is a much shorter exposure than standing together for several minutes while talking over pizza. After all, we have a saying about an apple keeping away doctors for a reason.
While Google is closing offices for till summer 2021, we made an unlimited working policy till the end of 2021 at TechMagic, and many companies followed suit. No one knows for sure how COVID-19 will behave in the future, but we sure can be flexible enough to adapt. Isn’t it what people excel at?