Tips for Businesses Reopening the Office
Businesses are finding new ways to keep operations running while continuing to social distance. Some businesses are reopening their offices to small numbers of staff, while some are continuing with remote work for the foreseeable and, in some cases, long-term future. Either way, going back to “normal” is not an option. As we work collectively to regain a semblance of structure within our work in this new environment, the number one priority of businesses should be the safety of both employees and customers.
Safe Work Protocols: Err On the Side of Caution
Seattle-based venture firm Madrona Venture Group surveyed local employers on their reopening procedures and tips to create a guide for other businesses. One guiding principle they mention is to remember that reopening a business is a marathon, not a sprint. Follow guidance from your state and local leadership and use resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for simple measures to implement. Get feedback from your business management, employees, and fellow business owners. Most importantly, keep the goal of safety and prevention in the foreground of your plans.
What We’re Doing at ImageNet Consulting
ImageNet offices are widespread in seven different states, so each location is under different state and local rulings and guidance. Our first step was to ensure we’re following those state and local guidelines, as well as the CDC’s recommended procedures, at each of our offices.
Our daily operations look much different than before COVID-19 and our work protocols will remain flexible as the situation develops. We have a limited number of staff working in our offices currently. We are embracing remote work and allowing our staff to decide on returning to work only once they feel comfortable. With only a small number of staff in the office, we’re able to adjust our work safety practices as needed.
Equipment for Employees:Face masks for every day, hand sanitizer, gloves.
For any employees who feel comfortable returning to the office, we are providing face masks (one for every day of the week), hand sanitizer to keep at their desks, and a box of gloves to wear as they see fit.
Changes to Our Office: One-way paths, limited access to communal spaces, additional spacing between desks.
Using both our digital displays and printed signage, we have transformed our office to promote safe work practices.
- All our hallways and stairways are now one-way paths, with reminders on the walls and arrows on the floors for directional assistance.
- Our communal spaces like our breakrooms are now limited to four people at a time.
- Conference rooms are closed, and all meetings are conducted either over video conference or phone call.
- Employees' desks have additional space between them to ensure at least 10 feet of space between them.
- We are also only allowing one person at a time on elevators.
Changes to Our Operations: Remote Working, Flexible Shifts
Remote work continues to allow our staff to work safely and securely from home. While many of our employees were already able to work from home, we’ve taken additional measures to ensure that anyone whose job allows them to work from home, can. Providing the right tools and technology to keep our employees productive while at home was only part of our shift to remote work. Another key step was updating our staff on proper cybersecurity policies, such as signing into the VPN from home.
Once more of our employees return to the office, we plan to use staggered schedules to ensure everyone is not arriving to work or leaving for the day at the same time.
Reminders and Reinforcements are Key
One helpful tip we’ve implemented is simply the reminder and reinforcement of our work safety measures. While having personal protective equipment (PPE) for employees is an obvious must-have as businesses reopen, one missed step is ensuring employees are using that PPE to keep themselves and others safe.
We’ve placed reminders throughout our offices about our new work safety measures. Both static and digital signage line our hallways and offices with reminders about always wearing masks, staying at least six feet apart, and frequent hand washing. We’re also encouraging our employees to remind one another about the importance of these measures. A Harvard Business Review article recently found that while many businesses focus on providing PPE and initially providing employees with recommended health practices, “if noncompliance is rarely addressed, healthy behavior becomes a joke.”
Addressing non-compliance must come from everyone – from the newest hire to c-level leadership.
In difficult times like this, it’s important to keep teamwork and encouragement top-of-mind. Without every day, in-person interactions with our co-workers, we can begin to feel isolated. To battle this isolation and keep teams engaged, we have implemented weekly team meetings, calls, and training sessions for our various departments. These meetings keep everyone connected and on the same page and give our team members time to collaborate and voice any wins, concerns, or ideas they have.
Solutions for Our Customers:
The changes we’re implementing also apply to our customer base. From the safety measures our service technicians take when visiting customers, to moving all our meetings from in-person to video or conference calls, we’re continuing to provide our services to our customers while keeping our employees and customers safe in the process.
We’ve also created new service programs to help our customers get back to business.
- Teleprint – For businesses looking to provide their remote workforce with the printing technology they need.
- Restaurant Single Use Menu Solutions – For restaurants concerned about the cost of printing single-use menus.
- Remote Working IT Solutions – For better security for your remote work teams and peace-of-mind for you.
- Social Distancing Signage – For a safer office environment.
- 3D Printed PPE (Limited to Hospitals and Healthcare Centers) – For healthcare workers in need of PPE.
From 3D printing PPE for healthcare workers to developing new initiatives to keep businesses running smoothly with a remote workforce, we're here to help. We are striving to help our customers adapt, keep our employees safe, and provide assistance to our communities.