By Nicole Fracasso, OSCPA communications intern
It’s been almost a year since the world went into lockdown and businesses adapted to the remote office.
While some offices might have already begun the transfer back to in-person work, Barbara Mitchell thinks remote work is here to stay.
Mitchell, who is the managing partner of The Mitchell Group, a consulting practice in Washington D.C., said offices should offer a remote option for employees who are not comfortable returning yet.
“I personally believe that we’re all going to be living in a hybrid schedule from now on. I think there are a lot of people who are not going to want to come back to work or who can’t for personal reasons,” she said. “None of us can afford to lose our good employees if they can’t come back to work or are not comfortable.”
But when it does come time to return, Mitchell said it is important for leaders to communicate every detail with their employees.
“Communicate, communicate, communicate. Hopefully, they are doing that right now,” she said. “I think managers are going to have to let their employees know what precautions they have taken.
Mitchell said to ensure people feel safe enough to return, businesses need to inform them about the safety procedures that are being used in the office building – especially if it is a shared office space. For example, the cleanliness protocols, making sure people are following social distancing guidelines and marking the floors.
“You have to tell people what you’ve done,” Mitchell said. “It’s great if you know what you’ve done, but you have to let people know so they feel comfortable coming back.”
Mitchell also said managers need to communicate the timeline to return to the office so employees have time to plan for the transition.
“The issue organizations are going to face more than anything is giving people enough time to plan their lives when they do bring people back into the office,” she said. “Maybe they’re already doing it, I know lots of organizations are alternating weeks for people working or finding other ways to keep as few people as possible within the office.”
All in all, Mitchell said leaders will need to listen to what their employees have to say and pay attention to how they feel about returning.
“Make sure when you bring your employees back that you are taking really good care of their mental health and all of the concerns they have,” she said. “Pay attention to what you see and hear. I think if we all pull together, we’ll get through it.”