The Post-COVID Workplace, Renovations and Design.
It seems like the only constant in the past 18 months has been that nothing is constant. Change management is the only management that we have been doing for a whole year and a half. Just when you think you have a direction the whole thing shifts. Even now as we think we have rounded the corner there is continued uncertainty and an ever-shifting sense of normal.
It does seem, however, like a high percentage of people are returning to some pre-COVID work situation. Many people are heading back to an office or workspace that they haven’t seen in a while and wondering what it will be like.
Equally daunting are the decisions and modifications that employers have to make.
- Will work be a hybrid of hours at home and hours at the office?
- Which employees will be home and who will be at the office?
- Does the physical layout of the office have to change?
- How many employees are allowed in the office at the same time?
- How do I motivate people that are only connected through a screen?
- What cultural changes need to happen for people to feel safe and excited about working for this company moving forward?
And that’s just the beginning.
- The Post-COVID Workplace, Renovations and Design.
- A New Way Of Working
- What Does This Mean for Employers and Office Managers.
- Here are some of the Particulars
- What does it mean for People that are Heading Back to an Office Environment?
A New Way Of Working
If life during COVID taught us anything it’s that many of the conventional ways of thinking about work and working environments were just plain wrong. People can work from home, Zoom does actually work, you don’t need to travel for work nearly as much, people can be accountable.
So many people were forced into making changes, setting up home offices, reporting in virtually, getting better at written communication and of course dealing with stress and uncertainty.
The hybrid model of working some hours from home and some from the office was adapted. Some people went completely from home, and some companies ended their office leases. Other companies are now giving employees the choice, knowing that some people thrive in a connected environment and need that structure.
What Does This Mean for Employers and Office Managers.
What it means is that many employers need to re-think their workspaces and come up with a plan for creating the right environment. Many employees have gotten used to working from home, and coming back to the same office can feel a lot like a letdown.
An office renovation may not only be required safety-wise, it might also be necessary for office morale and workplace satisfaction.
Employers are not only going to have to negotiate rates of work from home and work at the office, they are also going to have to create an environment where people feel safe, and can be as efficient and effective as possible at their job. That’s no easy task in a post-COVID world.
If you are looking for a workplace, or office renovation Bedrock Construction can help. We’ve love helping people get the perfect workspace. We also have a number of previous projects that we can show you to get the design and inspiration juices flowing. If you want to set up a consultation and talk to us about what you are thinking send us an email and we will get the process started.
Here are some of the Particulars
It is advised that employers and/or Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) representatives document the steps an organization is taking to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
The information and resources provided are the most recent versions at the time of posting. Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) questions or concerns can be directed to the OHS Contact Centre by telephone at 780-415-869
Alberta’s Relaunch Public Health Measures.
For highlights of Alberta’s relaunch stages, along with the key public health measures for each stage, view pages 9-10 of Alberta’s Relaunch Strategy.
Government of Alberta Workplace Guidance for Business Owners
The Government of Alberta has published Workplace Guidance for Business Owners to support employers in safely re-opening or continuing operations. Organizations are expected to develop and implement policies and procedures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Consult this document for guidance on:
- Communication related to COVID-19
- Sick staff and volunteers
- Prevention measures including cleanliness, distancing and screening
- Requirements for quarantine and isolation
What does it mean for People that are Heading Back to an Office Environment?
As vaccination rates increase and employers ramp up the office hours, the space you left may look a little different than the space you come back to.
Plexiglas is a real thing, and of course, meeting rooms require different spacing and opportunities for people to be spaced out. Patrick Stepanian, who is a legal manager at Peninsula Canada, a human resources consulting firm, told CTV News that employers have an obligation to ensure a safe workplace for workers. “It really is going to come down to an employer-by-employer and workplace-by-workplace determination, weighing that responsibility to accommodate and to ensure a safe workplace versus what the needs of the business are,” Stepanian said
Employers are trying to make the working environment as comfortable as possible, while still maximizing the working output. People need to feel safe, but they also need inspiration and motivation to actually get work done.
It also means this is a good time to have an expectation conversation with your boss. The level of flexibility is at an all-time high, and if you want to make some changes to your contract now is the time.
We found some additional resources that can be very helpful for both Employers and Employees.
Do you need supplies like PPE?
If your company or office is in need of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) or specific cleaning materials here is a list of organizations that can help.
- Rapid Response Platform
- ATB Nexus
- Edmonton Chamber of Commerce COVID-19 Support Network
- Edmonton Gives
- COVID PPE Help
- Canadian Red Cross
Employee Self-Screening Questionnaire
This is taken from the City of Calgary’s Employee Health Screening Questions. You can provide your employees with this self-screening questionnaire, it will help them assess if they are fit for a return to the workplace.
Work From Home Policy
As mentioned above every business and workspace is going to need to manage and document its work from home policy. Employers and Employees may want to continue working from home, or have a hybrid system. We have access to a telework policy template and a telework request form template. You can use these as a starting point.
Employers and employees may wish to continue working from home after experiencing a new way of working. To formalize your work from home arrangements, download and customize our Telework Policy Template and our Telework Request Form.Template: Telework Policy (.docx)Template: Telework Request Form (.docx)
Return to Workplace Policy
Organizations looking for an administrative policy on re-opening their workplace can download a locally drafted policy published by COVID-19 Continuity. The template includes:
- Return-to-Work Timeline
- Sanitation and Office Cleaning
- Personal Hygiene Etiquette (e.g. Handwashing)
- Personal Health
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Office Setup and Physical Distancing
- Shared Equipment
- Meeting Etiquette
Things to Consider When Employees Refuse to Return to Work
The people at ECVO adapted this from Denton’s Return to Work Employer Toolkit. Employers and Business owners can use this to think through what to do if workers refuse to come back to work. View the Guide
Workplace Preparedness Checklist
This next resource is a great tool for thinking through all of the things that people are wondering about as they return to work. It includes things like office layouts, cultural considerations and how to re-evaluate your current policies.
Employees should be aware of mental health supports available: