When a company’s leaders first start to think about getting their company’s operations started up again, their thinking tends to be centered on big concepts, such as how their employees will feel about starting to work in-house again or how client relationships can be rebuilt after a period of distancing.
That period of generalized thinking helps company leaders define and frame the macro issues they need to consider. But that period of planning only lasts so long, because the company also needs to start making concrete plans. At that point, everything shifts from the abstract to the specific.
How does thinking change at that stage?
Because each company faces unique challenges and opportunities, no two companies will go through the exact same steps as they plan the specifics of getting back to work.
However, we thought it would be useful for us to present a case study about a company in the New York area that is planning its RTW process. Even though your company will not confront the exact same issues in the exact same way as this company has done, we think you will draw some useful lessons from what it is doing.
The Company First Confronts a Macro Question: How Will Employees’ Schedules Work?
This company’s leaders are weighing two possible approaches to getting their employees back to work:
Strategy One: A Uniform but Staggered Return
Everyone will return to working in-house in the fourth quarter of 2020 but will organize their workdays on a staggered schedule. Some employees could work from 8:00 until noon, others from noon until 4:00, etc. That would allow a resumption of full operations while maintaining an office where social distancing could be upheld.
The company is exploring that option but weighing another at the same time.
Strategy Two: Staggering Employees’ Return to Work
In this approach, 25% of the company’s workforce will return to the office now and 75% will continue to work remotely. Then at a date to be determined, another 25% will return, and so on, until the full workforce is back on site. This strategy, like the first one we outlined above, would allow employees to maintain social distancing. However, the company has determined that implementing this approach would require more planning than the first one described above. The company foresees that it will have to:
- Decide which job functions need to come back into to the office first
- Work with managers/department heads to pinpoint the jobs that must be handed in-house, which can be handled remotely, etc.
- Study travel options that are available to employees
- Develop plans in cooperation with employees and take steps to assure that they agree
- Create concrete plans for how to stagger start times and work schedules
Those are the two approaches that the company is weighing. It will soon make a decision about which to use. But here’s something interesting to consider . . .
The Company Has Also Determined Next Steps to Take Now, No Matter Which of the Two Approaches It Adopts
The following is a mixed bag of different issues that the company’s managers have defined that it needs to start addressing now, no matter how plans evolve. They are thinking strategically, since there is no need to delay considering these issues until a schedule has been decided and employees are ready to start coming back to work.
Here are some of the steps the company is taking right now:
- Interview vendors and make detailed plans for deep cleaning and sanitizing facilities
- Decide how employees’ schedules – and their comings and goings – will be tracked and recorded by the company
- Review and plan how common areas, lunch areas and other common spaces will fit into the overall plan of social distancing
- Institute scheduled weekly meetings in which employees will plan and coordinate their working times with others
- Investigate and use the best group calendars that allow employees to remotely coordinate their work schedules
- Research the best procedures and protocols to have in place if employees become ill at work
Ready to Move Ahead? We Hope You Will Talk to Us!
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