Strategy Session: How We’re Getting Back to the Office Safely Recap

Monique Mahler | May 25, 2020

"As we move forward, continuing to be flexible and adapting quickly will the key to success" quote

On May 12, 2020, BlueWave Resource Partners hosted a panel of industry leaders, including our very own, Ron Wilson (CEO, interviewstream) to discuss how they are getting back to the office safely. In case you missed it, we put together some key highlights from the discussion for all those currently navigating these uncertain times.

How Industry Leaders will Get Back to the Office

A panel of industry leaders joined together to discuss how they will be making the transition back into their offices and the consensus was- there is no one plan and your plan needs to be fluid.

So, how do we plan for the unknown if we’re trying to reassure our companies that we’ll get back to the office?  First, we are living in a time of uncertainty and all we can do is take it as it comes. Second, as states begin to reopen, industry leaders need to assess what is right for them, whether that be phasing back in to the office or continuing to work remotely. The panel had several thoughts to consider if making/how to make the transition back into the office including:

  1. Phase in. If moving back into the office is the plan, phase in essential workers first. Beyond that, there is no requirement for others to be in the office for the foreseeable future.  For some, remote work may become permanent. After all Twitter has gone permanently remote and other companies, like Mastercard are allowing employees to work from home until a COVID-19 vaccine is available.  The moral of the story here is: if you can, let people work remote as an option. It’s likely to continue to be trendy as an employee benefit.
  2. Be sensitive. If the plan is to start phasing back in, some employees may be comfortable returning to an in-office work environment while others may not. Hint: see examples above.
  3. Be flexible. Not everyone needs to return to the office at the same time and not everyone needs to be there at the same time. There are still challenges for employees, like lack of childcare or public transportation, so don’t force something that causes additional hardship or creates potential risks.
  4. Sanitize. As you do phase back in to the office, sanitize the environment. The CDC has issued these guidelines, so use them. Beyond that, it is up to companies to create a team approach and follow the guidelines to implement new standard operating procedures.

Continuing to Navigate A Work from Home Culture (#wfhforever?)

Some companies may choose to phase back into the office environment as soon as their cities, states and local authorities “re-open;” however, many companies will continue to work remotely. One thing that came up in the conversation is that everyone should start to think about how folks will be able to handle their role in a fully-remote setup when interviewing (and, believe it or not, it wasn’t Ron from interviewstream that brought this up).

For those who have been, and will continue to work remote,  industry leaders have had to consider many aspects of the changing environment for employees. Many are taking notes on the current experience to create the best work from home environment possible. The panel had some key insights and agreed on these 5 takeaways:

Takeaway #1 Make it Fun

Get creative! Plan remote Happy Hours, break-out rooms, contests, branded face masks and any other fun and unique ways to be social. Keep the relationships and camaraderie strong.

Takeaway #2 Address Mental Health and Wellness

Use the tools available or implement new ones for employees to be trained on how to interview (interviewstream can help here) and operate in this new world and create an open, empathetic atmosphere. This current climate has drawn even more light upon mental health and wellness, so now, more than ever, provide support and opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Takeaway #3 Keep a Work-Life Balance Culture Flowing

Employees are often working more hours than before from home and taking less PTO time. Meeting fatigue is real. Employees are at home and working much longer hours with the lack of breaks they would have had when leaving the office. Insist employees block time for themselves or set up summer hours on Friday – where everyone has to sign off!

Takeaway #4 Expect Remote Technology to Continue

Continue to embrace the technology at your fingertips because as we have learned to do things better, this standard will remain. Bonus tip: if you’re hiring like we are, and in meetings all of the time, use a scheduling tool like interview scheduler to help candidates get “on the books” without all of the back and forth.

Takeaway #5 Over-Communicate

Check in with your employees regularly via video chat and make the work from home environment a positive one. Be transparent and over-schedule meetings. Implement weekly all hands-on, company meetings and include video updates. Do what you can to keep everyone engaged.

Only time will tell what the future work environment may or may not look like. As we move forward, continuing to be flexible and adapting quickly will be the key to success whether we are at the same table or across a computer screen.

Thank you to Joey Brodsky, Manager of Business Development, Joe Ostertage, VP of Operations at BioAway, Nick Walsh COO of Envy Labs, Ron Wilson, CEO interviewstream and Nick Eisold, Director of Business Services & Implementation, Golf Now, for sharing your insights on both remote work and how to get back into the office.

About The Author

Monique Mahler is the CEO of interviewstream. She is an avid researcher of facts, a self proclaimed marketing geek, and an equestrian in her spare time.


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