On the Fence About Going Back to Your Office? This App Might Help You Decide
By now, many of us have become accustomed to our "new normal" work-from-home arrangements.
But as government-mandated quarantine restrictions continue to ease, and as more and more people continue to adjust to everyday life in the middle of a pandemic, the question looms large over professionals and business leaders everywhere: Is it finally time to go back to the office?
Of course, not everyone wants to go back to the office, and it may not necessarily be the right decision at this point. There are a lot of factors to consider.
On one hand, the office isn't without distinct advantages: greater collaboration, less tendency to work in silos, and of course, the morale boost of seeing and interacting with coworkers. In considering a return to the office, leaders would be remiss to discount the value of that sense of community.
But on the other hand, the pandemic is still raging, and a return to the office inevitably poses a level of risk. Is it fair to take that risk, considering all the things we're able to do remotely
Whether or not you're in the position to make that decision for your company, it's one worth contemplating these days. Because sooner, rather than later, it's a decision that needs to be made. Here are some of the key factors to consider and discuss with regards to returning to the office:
How many employees would share the office at once?
Should you decide to return to the office, what would that look like in terms of population density? Remember, the main circumstance you're trying to avoid has much to do with crowds of people sharing the same unventilated space. Small companies should have no problem with this, but medium-to-large ones need to do the math and make shifting arrangements to manage the exact number of people in the office at any given time.
Is your office equipped to accommodate employees safely?
If you're an employee whose boss thinks it's enough to place an alcohol spritzer and a handheld thermometer at the door, perhaps a strongly worded e-mail is in order. For people to feel safe when going back to the office, management would need to install much more than that: Consider isolation barriers, for instance, or company-issued personal protective equipment; not to mention clear guidelines and enforcement measures.
Can your company provide for employees' transportation?
In relation to the previous item, ask your boss if the company can consider arranging vans or any other form of transportation. After all, the risk of contracting COVID-19 starts as soon as you step outside your house, and public transportation is a serious risk factor.
What is your company's contingency plan in case of an outbreak?
On the other hand, if you're a manager or decision-maker in your company, don't even think about mandating a return to the office without establishing a clear and well-communicated contingency plan for the very real possibility that someone could contract COVID-19. A company that asks its employees to return to the office is also partially accountable for their health, after all, so prepare the hammer for your hammer-and-dance strategy.
How do employees feel about going back to the office?
Returning to the office is a highly subjective matter, and different people have different views on it. It's best for leaders to take their company's temperature, not just literally, but also figuratively: Is everyone more or less willing to go back? This could be a contentious employee relations issue, so handle with care.
How has productivity fared after the transition to remote work?
Lastly, the most important question of all: Do you really need to go back to the office? When it comes right down to it, you should only ever consider risking your health and the health of others when it's absolutely necessary. If a company is just as productive working from home as it is when employees work at the office, then is there even enough reason to take the risk? This is the fundamental question of the trade-off, so it's worth conducting an exhaustive analysis of how the company is performing.
A company may find, in its analysis, that overall productivity can be maintained in a remote work setup, using the right online tools. If there's one thing we've learned from working remotely for the past few months, it's that the Internet has given us so many tools. If a workforce is resourceful and can adapt easily, it can continue with business as usual without having to return to the office.
Lark is one such tool, and it could be an especially significant productivity booster for companies that decide to continue working remotely. Lark is an all-in-one collaboration suite that seamlessly unites Chat, Calendar, Docs and Cloud storage, Video Conferencing, Email and App Center—everything you and your coworkers need to get the job done. Here's how it works:
In fact, while Lark is certainly suited to a smooth remote working environment, its benefits extend to those who do decide to go back to the office. The key is its ability to make collaboration easier and more centralized: get the whole company on board and work is a breeze, regardless of where you are. Small and large businesses alike stand to benefit from a tool like Lark Suite, which can play a fundamental role in shaping the way you work.
Check out Lark's official website, www.larksuite.com, for more information.
Lark is available on Mac, PC, iOS, and Android. Click here to start using Lark.