As we are headed towards a more safe, ‘corona-free’ environment, I read a lot of articles giving information about how to safely reopen the workplace. At icapps, we asked ourselves the same question. Our primary objective was, and still is to do as much as logically possible to prevent our colleagues and their ‘bubble’ from getting sick or infected. As we value the freedom of everyone working at our company, we added the challenge of not putting a too strict rule set in place.
A good plan
We all saw how challenging it was for the government to carry out a crystal clear exit strategy, including regulations on what is allowed and what is not. The lesson I learned from that, is to present no more than a single page plan. This is the best way to guarantee success, where success is not only a strict plan to rule out the chance of infections to the highest possibility. A successful plan is a plan that people understand, feels natural and is instantly carried out by all of our colleagues.
A short practical overview of our plan is:
A schema with overall agreements
A tool to reserve a desk at our office (http://deskreservationtool.icapps.com free to download and use by any company)
Small structural changes to our office. From displayed information sheets over automatic sinks to automatic soap dispensers, and many more small things to provide safety to our employees, both physically and mentally.
Free materials for everyone to use, including:
Reusable mouth masks;
Disposable mouth masks;
A safety kit for when you have to visit a customer on site;
Other small but useful stuff.
The best measure we took so far, is that we don’t force people to come to the office. As I said, the office is open and adapted to guarantee a safe working environment, but if our employees want to stay at home and work from there, that is totally fine with us as well. We do experience some interest from our colleagues to work at the office, but 75% still prefers to work from home. We won’t make any bold statements like Twitter and Facebook who both announced that they are giving employees the opportunity to permanently work from home, but we will figure out something that is beneficial for everyone. If we as an employer claim to provide a flexible working environment, then now, more than ever, is the time to prove this!
Communication is key
Reopening our workspace did not only ask for practical arrangements, a global health pandemic like this also raised a lot of questions on how the company will evolve in the next months. The only thing we can provide is leadership in the sense of clear and transparent communication on which actions we think are needed in the upcoming time.
Apart from practical decisions, these actions can also be economic/financially, which might have a possible negative impact on the lives of our employees. Although we are not planning to take any drastic measures, every temporary change we make must be communicated very carefully so people understand that it is temporarily in the first place, and not for the personal benefit of anyone.
Weekly status updates and the option to participate in informational conf calls is something that is still necessary so colleagues won’t have to worry about possible insecurities about the actions we take.
The new normal
The process of fully going back to the ‘new normal’ won’t be easy. We as a company will have the opportunity to help our employees not only at the office, but also in a new way of working where homework is an essential part of. Therefore, we should already think of new ways to accommodate our employees so they have the same comfort at home as they have in the office.
During this transformation, I can only be very proud and thankful for how all our colleagues reacted in the past few months. They have truly inspired me, and I look forward working together on the upcoming chapters of icapps.