Returning to a “normal” workplace, whatever that is

As a number of workplaces reopen after COVID-19 closures, employers and employees alike are facing challenges in adjusting to a new “normal.” It’s challenging to get work done effectively and serving customers while protecting everyone’s health and respecting their concerns.

Here are a few things we’ve learned at C2 Strategic Communications:

1. We enjoy company at our company. We’re very social creatures, so getting back together in the same space has been energizing for many of us.

2. Focus on reducing risk, not eliminating it. You can’t readily COVID-proof your workplace. Public health officials provide regulations and advice designed to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus.

3. Set a good example. If leaders don’t follow the rules, employees won’t. Hold each other accountable to the rules that are set.

4. Think about mental health, not just physical health. Anxiety is much more contagious than COVID-19. The threat of catching or spreading a debilitating illness can be overwhelmingly stressful to some people. Being understanding and accommodating is important.

5. Zoom is a fantastic tool, but not a panacea. Videoconferencing is here to stay and will transform many businesses. But it’s harder to mentor people remotely, and can be challenging to tackle collaborative tasks. It’s also easier to hide multi-tasking (e.g. checking email, social media, etc.) during a Zoom meeting than an in-person meeting.

6. Telecommuting and accountability must go hand in hand. Companies that have well-defined performance measures and data have greater confidence in the effectiveness of telecommuting than companies with more subjective measures. This might be a good time to ask managers and employees to develop or sharpen their KPIs (key performance indicators). It’s also important to ensure boundaries and balance – take lunch breaks, start and stop work at similar times, don’t work more hours than necessary.

Chad Carlton, C2 Strategic Communications

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