Returning to the office: The digital workplace?

Most employees have been adjusting to life working from home over the past year. The various digital collaboration tools have enabled workforces to communicate and collaborate effectively on a day-to-day basis. 

As society begins to slowly reopen, businesses leaders and employees are faced with the task of readjusting to life back in the office. Every individual will have their own preference to how quickly they return to the office, with company policy being taken into account. 

Times are different, measures are being taken to keep employees safe whilst trying to conduct everyday business activities. The digital workplace provides businesses with solutions to the trickier challenges faced with opening offices and physical working spaces. 

As the UK begins re-settling into their working environments, it’s important to look at how you can incorporate life working from home to welcoming back colleagues and a workforce to working at their desks again. 

Clear and trust communication channels are vital

Trusted digital communication channels have been relied upon during the height of the pandemic in order to keep employees informed and up to date during the crisis. This level of communication needs to be maintained as to the status of the reopening of offices, and the working schedule at the preferred location. 

If a business regularly welcomes clients to the office location, it is important to use the appropriate channels to keep potential visitors up to date about planning visits, will be essential. This will reduce office space and bring in an element of organisation. 

Surveys & screening tools 

As the safety of employees is of the most importance during this transition, having certain screening tools that help employees or new starters determine whether they have Covid-19 symptoms and therefore need to isolate, will be very helpful. Conducting surveys could also make a workforce feel comfortable about options in working towards a safe working environment. 

Contact tracing 

Digital has played a vital part in keeping the UK government on track with tracing the amount of daily cases. Enterprise contract tracing to help identify staff who may have come into contact with someone who has developed Covid symptoms, and therefore has to isolate is a hot topic at the moment. 

Several apps are being developed to execute this capability, which in result be invaluable to organisations and employees, as they work towards reopening in the coming months. 

Team scheduling 

One of the main challenges organisations will face as they prepare to reopen offices, will be trying to get all employees in the same working space at the same time. Depending on how big the office is, employers may need to schedule the days in which certain team members are in the office on the same day. 

The development team may need to have a meeting to discuss the latest stages in their project, so it may be a case that only the necessary employees involved in the project will be present at the office for that day.

It will be helpful to organise a schedule, so everyone knows who is at the office, on what date and time. 

New learning platforms 

The way we work both in the office and remotely, is likely to transform. As organisations and employees try to find ways to work effectively in the long term, having a platform where employees can access necessary information and guidance on how to transition, will be helpful. 

A learning platform or intranet that can be accessible via mobile will help employees learn about new ways of working, as well as important procedural information that can support safety, health and well-being

Integrating the digital and physical workplace 

There are aspects of the physical workplace which organisations and employers alike find useful. Organisations will be identifying methods to get back to ‘normal’ in the physical workplace, however, the variation of digital collaboration tools that aided many organisations during the height of the pandemic cannot be forgotten. 

The workplace is evolving and the digital workplace will play a vital role in managing and possibly reducing the amount time that is spent in an office. 

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