It's 2021...Now What?

Whether you’re a CFO, HR Manager or real estate executive, it’s a unique time for anyone in the real estate world. As a result of the pandemic, most companies are fielding questions from both employees and clients regarding a return to normalcy. While everyone was pushed into working from home early last year, team members are wondering when it's safe to get back into the office, and what kind of protocols are being taken to keep them safe upon arrival. Some employees are questioning whether they want to return to the office at all. That’s why it’s imperative company leaders take a proactive approach to the return process, therefore ensuring it runs as smoothly as possible.

Open Lines of Communication

In order to take control of the situation, companies must look to their employees to gain an understanding of how they’re feeling. Survey your staff, seeking their input regarding which roles can work from home going forward. Since we know it will be a progressive return to the workplace rather than an instantaneous one, determine how often team members should physically return to the office. It’s possible that some would like to continue working from home indefinitely, and that needs to be taken into consideration too. Get educated about what types of protocols and measures should be taken into consideration to make sure returning staff are able to work in a safe environment. This could mean anything from new HVAC systems to implementing a hybrid schedule for employees.

Reevaluate Your Environment

The work landscape is constantly changing. Going forward, all workplaces will have to consider safety as an important component of office structure. But first, determine what type of work environment your staff feels is most conducive to their productivity. Are they looking to return to traditional offices, or more of an open-cubicle environment? Do they want to converge in meeting rooms and collaborations areas? The question of what types of amenities function in a post-COVID work environment also need to be answered, ranging from shared dining facilities to access to sanitizing products. As your company continues to evolve, you’ll also have to establish whether your real estate is seen as a tool for recruiting and retention of staff. How will you use your space going forward?

Understanding Your Growth

While COVID-19 has slowed some industries down, others are continuing to grow. Before you determine your next move, consult hiring projections for the next couple years. The ways in which your organization will expand in the future will need to be taken into consideration. Evaluate whether your staff will continue to work from home in the long run, or if they’re all interested in returning to the office. Maybe you’ll enact a split-time policy that allows both, or possibly utilize technology that helps different work environments co-exist peacefully. All of these questions need to be answered before you make any important decisions.

Implement a Plan

After you establish the groundwork for a return to the workplace, it’s time to implement a thorough real estate plan that reflects your findings. Consciously interact with your people to determine both your needs. If the office setup will require changes, engage an architect to help facilitate a plan. Also, be sure to consult your IT and facilities team to make sure you have all the suitable technology to ensure employees can do their job to the best of their ability at both the office and at home. By creating an organized plan, you're ensuring the return to the office can be a smooth one that empowers your team to perform to the best of their ability every day.

The return to the workplace will be a marathon, not a sprint. But by working closely with a member of Cresa’s qualified team, the process can be safe and seamless one.

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