Your company has evolved through the recent healthcare crisis, and some days it feels like everything about the way work is done has gone by the wayside. Where and how companies operate and methods for interacting with and marketing value to employees and clients all have been upended.
While it may seem that virtual lifestyles and business strategies are in vogue now more than ever, the desire to be in a physically engaged office space grows for many who find themselves languishing in their socially distanced bubble. As quarantines are lifted, many employees are finding relief as their companies' leadership broaches the return-to-work topic.
Here are three best-practice steps companies may consider to ensure not only a safe and healthy return, but one that also maintains brand fluidity and a culture of optimism.
1. Adapt your office for a healthier, safer employee experience.
As some employees begin the return to in-office settings that are more socially distanced, tentativeness in how to interact may prevail. This is where true leaders steer the way, ensuring a well-thought-out protocol that begins with office-space layout.
According to an article by Kenneth R. Gosselin, the recent-years' evolvement to open floor plans that accommodate more people in less space is being reconsidered.
"Employers are considering plexiglass 'cough dividers' like those in the grocery store," says Gosselin. As well, directional decals on the floor to curb employees' face-to-face contact and more-frequent cleaning of office space are protocol considerations in the post-pandemic office.
Additionally, State of Connecticut's guidelines include desks arranged so employees are a minimum 6-feet apart, disposable wipes are available near shared surfaces and queuing and restricting capacity maintains social distancing in elevators.
Moreover, reductions in conference room capacity as well as switching furniture fabrics to "bleach-cleanable fabric" are drawing interest, according to Rita Joy, director of client development at Interscape Commercial Environments in Farmington, in Gosselin's article.
2. Continue employing close-communication strategies forged during the crisis.
Concerns about a company's ability to reignite the familial, collegial, warm and/or connected culture that once thrived amid more densely populated office spaces are real. However, the communications systems developed amid the pandemic may actually buoy return-to-office collaborations.
Kendra Scott, founder, chief executive and chairman of Kendra Scott LLC, in a Wall Street Journal article on pandemic business strategies, describes the challenge of "having to take calls in my car because that's the only place I can find solace," in the absence of having a physical office to accomplish tasks.
"I feel closer in a lot of ways to my employees now that I did when we were in the same building. We're going to take from this that it's not a place that makes you close, it's how you're communicating."
Nirvanna Lildharrie, in an article on priorities for companies returning after COVID-19, suggests that employers' frequent communications with teams due to COVID-19 "shouldn't stop when it comes to bringing people back into the office."
She explains that when strategic and logistical conversations ramp up regarding getting people back into the office, it is important to "have a communication strategy in place. So, if you've been talking to people through channels like Slack or having executives email everybody, I'd say continue to do that."
Bottom line, Lildharrie encourages a two-way conversation involving surveys to gather how people are doing at home, ensuring everyone is involved in the change management process.
Keep Reading: How to Manage Teams When Working Remotely
3. Build new digital marketing techniques to drive competitive growth.
A switch to OmniChannel marketing (if you do not already use this strategy) will enable personalized customer interactions, according to Anand Srivasta in 8 Ways to Approach Branding Post COVID-19 Lockdown. This includes segmented, targeted approach vs. "Spray-and-Play."
Extending on this idea, Denise Lee Yohn, in SmartBrief's, Protect and Prepare Your Brand for the Post-Coronavirus World describes how the "digital customer experience (which) has become your primary marketing channel," will likely continue post-pandemic. As such, you may want to consider building new, enduring marketing habits that include conveying your brand leadership through these digital marketing disciplines:
- Targeted and customized experiences to fulfill unique customer needs, using customer insights and analytics.
- Uniquely expressed brand attributes and value, distinguishing customer experience from that of your competitors.
- Operational creativity to innovate new ways to engage customers digitally and to create new experiences.
Adding video to the mix will be another differentiator. "Even when the lockdown ends, social distancing will continue being a norm. Therefore, people will start valuing online resources more than ever, especially videos," continues Srivasta.
The same strategy applies to marketing your value to the employee marketplace. By building an enhanced company profile, you have the option to display your social media channels and add videos on your Glassdoor profile, further exuding your brand to your target talent.
By incorporating these suggestions, you can help ensure a smoother, more agile transition to an improved workplace normal post COVID-19. You may then wish to leverage your success stories of transition by posting company updates on your Free Employer Account. When you post a company update, anyone who follows your company will receive an email alert which can lead to an increase in traffic and applications.
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your employer brand, unlock your Free Employer Account today.