Whichever term you prefer, figuring out how your organisation will work now that we’re allowed back into offices can seem a daunting task. If you are still wary of how you might reopen your office, perhaps our story can lend you some confidence.
Before restrictions eased, we did look at whether we could make the office Covid secure for working whilst social distancing was required. For us, this wasn’t going to be possible due to the size and layout of our spaces. We were comfortable with the decision to remain working from home whilst any restrictions were in force.
Once we felt it was safe to start using the space again, we settled on talking about it as ‘reopening the office’. We were not looking to fully return to working from the office, and were mindful that whatever we did would be different to how we worked before. So what would it be like when we reopened that office door? Our first step was to gather thoughts and feedback from the whole staff team – what were the priorities, what did people need, what were their concerns and how might we support individuals to use the space.
As you can imagine, this was not straight forward! There was a lot to consider, but our fabulous staff team also contributed lots of practical solutions. It became clear that our first step should be making the office available for tasks that could not be done from home. This was things like printing or scanning documents, and for working on any physical files from our various projects. We also wanted staff to be able to meet in-person where that would be beneficial, such as for 1-2-1s with line managers, to collaborate on a piece of work, or if they just felt the need to sit with colleagues.
Thinking about it in those terms, made it seem so much more straight forward. We started to think about having a few desks for staff to use when they needed to be in and converting some workspace to meeting rooms.
At this point, we fed back to staff on what their survey responses told us, and what our plan would be. We also provided reassurance to everyone that they could continue to work from home, but space was available for those that needed to work in the office for whatever reason. Then we conducted a risk assessment to identify how many workstations we could set up, and the capacity of the meeting rooms. We also stocked up on cleaning materials to meet the requirements of the risk assessment – lots of wipes, anti-viral spray, and paper towels!
There is signage everywhere to remind staff on the capacity of each room, to wipe down surfaces, and to make sure that twice a day there is a wipe down of the high-frequency touch points, such as door handles and light switches.
Finally, at the end of August we had our first in-person team day since February 2020, and offered a (re)induction to using the office. It was great to gather as a whole team again. Since then a few staff have been in using the office. I have committed to being in two or three days each week, so that if anyone is nervous about being in by themselves, they know I’ll be here.
We are still finding our way, and we will keep reviewing how we use the space, and what further changes we might want to make. But we are in no rush.
And that’s how we have reopened our office. We aren’t in full time, but if you need to meet us in person, we can absolutely arrange a time to be in the office. It will be great to start seeing you all in person again!
As the Business Support Manager, Debs keeps Better Connect organised. She supports the CEO, Senior Management Team and the Board in their work to continuously improve the organisation. She also works with the wider Better Connect team to ensure we have the systems and processes we need for managing our projects, supporting our partners, and to be effective in our individual roles. Debs loves to plan and organise, and being able to do this in support of our colleagues and partners, developing systems and structures that support everyone to do their best work, that’s what she enjoys about the role.Learn more about Deborah