As cities and regions across Canada battled with lockdowns and stay at home orders, workplaces must become fluid as policies, technologies and facilities will need to continually adapt to changing conditions and challenges. During this time, it remains critical for HR and Facilities Management to establish, if you haven’t already, and redefine your policies towards a safe return to the office. From capacity planning to physical distancing, contract tracing, and touchless interactions, these areas of concerns should remain at the forefront of office planning to ensure a safe return to the office.

Staggered arrival and departure times

Start with a phased back to work schedule that aligns with the unique requirements of each departments. For example, the initial back to the office plan may only be for 20% of the workforce with a gradual increase to 35%, 45%, etc. Monitor individuals or departments to ensure they are coming into the office as per schedule.

Manage health screening requirements

HR plays a huge role in leading the effort to provide a secure way to screen employees and visitors to determine their health status before they enter your office. These precautions are highly visible and assure employees that it is safe to come back to work. Establish your visitor management policy such as how many visitors, what days, designated areas and how they sign in. Ensure there is sufficient signage and provide temperature screening for both visitors and employees.
Tip #1 – Automating this function with eforms and automated workflow provides contactless check in/check out, a record of who is in the building at a particular time and proof of health and safety guidelines have been followed. The information is saved, searchable and readily available if contact tracing is necessary.

Support space and capacity Management

Reconfigure workspace to reduce desk density and meeting room capacity in order to meet social distancing requirements. Even when it’s safe to go back to the office, it remains important to reduce the number of people working in the office to a safe level following a significant reduction in available desks due to social distancing.
Tip #2 – Leveraging workspace management software to easily adjust your existing workspace to a less dense layout by reducing the number of usable desks and the capacity of meeting rooms in a few simple steps.

Implement physical distancing in the workplace

Begin by setting guidelines for floor occupancy. This is a great opportunity for HR and facilities management to work together and identify key areas of concerns. These guidelines need to be dynamic as situations change over time. Employers will have to understand where people sit and on what days they are sitting there.
Tip #3 – Rethink common areas such as elevator capacities and provide signage, where applicable, for clarity and to avoid conflict. Allow for contact tracing by understanding where employees are sitting and what days they are in. Increased space between desks and build physical barriers with a modular design.

Enforce hygiene and sanitation

Ensure that workspace cleaning is enforced when desks are scheduled to be used by a different employee and after meetings. Additionally, communicate through safety signage on key safety guidelines and promote the importance of hand washing and clean desk policy. Provide employees with convenient access to touchless hand sanitizers and masks in the office.
Tip #4 – Leveraging workspace management software to enable effective workspace sanitation. A comprehensive vendor workflow manages deep cleaning. The automatic workflow is triggered by changes to bookings and monitors that a cleaning task has been completed before a desk or meeting room can be used.
Without the right strategy, implementation and tools in-place may cause unnecessary concerns and anxiety amongst employees returning to work in the office. There are tons to consider: reallocating space, workplace signage, screening employees and visitors, minimizing face to face contact and enforcing policies for meeting room usage plus more. Ricoh can help implement solutions to support your organization’s safety precautions. Each organization is unique, and we can provide a customized solution to meet your needs.

Looking for a quick reference? Download the Return to the Office Checklist.
Learn more by watching our on-demand webinar session on Planning for a safe return to the office.