The world wasn’t ready for the coronavirus pandemic. Even first-world countries saw themselves on their knees as businesses closed doors, and the lives of their citizens were forever disrupted. But a year-and-a-half after, there’s now a semblance of normalcy in our lives. We know some do’s and don’t’s. We have a better understanding of how to protect ourselves from the virus. Whether through vaccination, social distancing, or wearing masks, we are now in a better place than last year.
But that doesn’t mean that the world is back to normal for office employees, too. Although they’re slowly coming back to the office, they need to face challenges and risks in a world still largely suffering from the pandemic. How can they collaborate while also following social distancing protocols? How can employers ensure their employees’ safety if and when they require them to report in the office again?
Communication is indispensable to the collaborative abilities of a team. For a year, they communicated through video calls, emails, texts, group chats, and what-not. Meeting the rest of the team in person again will be different because you cannot go mask-free as you used to. Plus, you need to practice social distancing and still continue using an amalgamation of old and new communication techniques in the office.
Aside from internet communication tools, you can also focus on office tools and devices that you might need now that collaboration will happen in the office once more. Look for a PABX supplier for office networking solutions. The device has a secure system to connect employees with each other, allowing collaborations to thrive even if these don’t necessarily happen in a face-to-face setting.
Health and Safety Protocols
Work with a trusted health care provider about the safety protocols in your office. If there are specific industry standards, follow them, too. What kind of devices do you need in the office? Do you need a contactless temperature checker? How about sanitation? Do you need an air purifier? How many square meters of the office can one purifier cover? These are the things that you have to consider when putting in place health and safety protocols.
Then, of course, there is also the matter of vaccines. You have to put your heads together and decide if mandating vaccination is something to consider. Should you require workers to get the jab? And if you won’t, are you going to allow them to work in the office, or should they stay with the work-from-home setup for now? When employees feel safe, it is easier for them to do things together.
Recognition and rewards are great motivators for employees to collaborate on projects together. These create an emotional bond among team members. They are inspired to reach the goals that the project set. What kind of awards should employees receive? It’s not always monetary, although gift checks and certificates, online vouchers, bonuses, and gift bags are welcome. If the company cannot afford monetary rewards, a simple email message recognizing what the team has done is also a good show of appreciation. If you can give the employees an additional day off, then all the better.
At the same time, foster healthy competition among employees. Over the past year, companies coddled employees because of the situation. Everyone needed to be extra emphatic about what others are going through. But do you know that healthy competition is a must for the collaborative energies of the workforce? Think about team-building exercises and contests wherein the team with the winning campaign or strategy will get a bonus.
By now, everyone should recognize the mental health issues that people face. Make sure that mental health and wellness are a priority. Positive reinforcements will encourage collaborations and keep the workplace stress-free. It is no use to force them back to the office if they are unprepared to face what lies ahead. If employees cannot give their best at work because of mental stress, then this isn’t the right time to welcome them back. But if they can effectively collaborate from their home offices, then virtual collaborations take the place of face-to-face interactions.
The past year taught businesses that collaboration could happen from anywhere. But it also taught businesses how important personal interactions are and how they build the culture and identity of the organization. Although the world is not yet fully back to normal, a semblance of normalcy should be assumed in offices that have now reopened.