How Can Managers Better Prepare for Employees to Return to Work?

Blog by Ayla Langer, SFive Contributing Writer

As COVID-19 restrictions loosen up and employees start returning to work, how can managers better prepare and open up office spaces and workplaces? Along with new health and safety standard operating procedures outlined by the CDC, innovative measures will help employers ensure a safe return to new, but familiar, territory for their employees. Here are three ways for managers to usher in new times:

  1. Artificial Intelligence in the Workplace

  2. Return with Peace of Mind with Feng Shui

  3. Little Actions with Big Results

1.) Artificial intelligence will be a new, innovative way to help re-open office spaces with COVID-19 measures in mind.

Businesses can leverage new technologies to protect employees and clients through the transition towards getting back to normal. Recent breakthroughs through a partnership between Colliers International and Basking Automation are an exciting proposition for businesses seeking to add tech to the equation.

Colliers International is working with its class of 2018 and 2019 to provide solutions to leverage their current technological offerings by using artificial intelligence, data analytics, augmented and virtual reality, machine learning and block chain technologies to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on the workplace.

In a recent interview on Collier’s website, Zach Michaud, VP of Strategic Investments at Colliers International, says that “As COVID-19 accelerates the commercial real estate industry’s transition to digital solutions, we are seeing the potential benefits of our partnerships move into sharper focus.”

These benefits could be seen in providing both short and long term solutions in multiple areas such as lease abstraction, virtual office tours, and workplace occupancy analytics. The current offerings have the ability to provide immediate solutions for the effects of the coronavirus such as optimal cleaning and in-office social distancing solutions, and the ability to analyze office space mobility for enhanced sanitation efforts. Long-term implementations of virtual tours will be an asset as property management businesses move into a new, tech-forward era. Many property management companies are already investing in AI and tech, and the coronavirus changes provide the timing for businesses to become leaders in the space through having tech lead the conversation for innovations moving forward.

2.) Consider feng shui while reorganizing the office to accommodate social distancing

Since offices will need to be reorganized to accommodate new distancing measures anyways, now is a great opportunity to reinvigorate spaces with newfound energy using feng shui. Feng shui is a Chinese practice that uses concepts of spatial connection through arranging objects in order to promote harmony and create a flow of natural energy.

This “secret weapon” technique is a cost-sensitive solution for reinvigorating a space and establishing a new, positive energy. A few ways to readjust the office for a more calming presence during a stressful time include:

  • Introducing water and greenery. Research has shown that there are immense short term and long term positive effects of nature on health and wellbeing. In the study, every green environment improved mood, and the presence of water generated even stronger positive effects. Through incorporating greenery and running water fountains, employees will naturally feel calmer in the space.

  • Choosing calming colors. Color can change the way that you think and how you feel. By opting for soft yellow, pale blues and greens, sandstone, and eggshell white, workspaces can enhance serene energy that will relax workers as they confront new health challenges in the workplace.

  • Maximizing natural lighting. When possible, utilize natural lighting to create the largest positive effects on morale. Place desks close to windows, utilize sheer curtains and place mirrors in optimal lighting to open up the space.

  • Changing the layout of the room to help departments come back new and reinvigorated. The psychological aspects of moving departments, chairs and changing up the seating areas will establish a newness that can accommodate social distancing while freeing up the mind. Some offices even hire a feng shui expert to optimize bringing organization balance, and harmony.

3.) The biggest changes can happen through the little actions:

Alongside building trust through implementations in accordance with guidelines from the CDC, there are additional small, yet powerful, things that can help usher in a safe and effective return to work..

  • Utilize return-to-work icebreakers like practicing new forms and etiquette and unique ways to say hello without touching to help everyone reconnect from the recent office hiatus. These exercises can help teams build trust in a unique way while maintaining a distance.

  • Start a COVID-19 Slack channel for designated teams to communicate. Have a socially distanced happy hour? This is the place to brainstorm and plan innovative ideas for how to keep morale high and hands clean around the office.

  • Put up unique signs that incorporate puns, wordplay and other lighthearted, but valuable, content. Not only will this remind everyone to keep their distance, but also inspire a laugh here and there.

By considering these approaches to create clean and comfortable environments for the transition back to office life, employers will ensure employees feel ready for the future with AI, in touch with their zen flow because of feng shui, and a part of a communicative and engaging community at work. Small implementations are going to have powerful results for the return-to-normal in the next few months.

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