Managing Post-Pandemic

Shawnee Love   •   March 30, 2021

According to the Canadian government, any Canadian who wants a vaccine will be able to have it before the end of September. That six-month runway means companies are wise to begin thinking about how they will operate post pandemic.

There appear to be three categories of “post-pandemic” workplaces, 100% in person, 100% remote, and hybrid.

If you have discovered that:

  • You don’t need to be face to face to operate effectively, and
  • Costs, information, privacy and security, and people are all manageable remotely,

then you may opt to go remote. In this case, you may only rent a physical location for an event or meeting going forward.

Industries such as construction, production, manufacturing, and R&D and environments requiring creative teams to collaborate may make the opposite call and in some cases source even more workspace to ensure they can offer open, airy spaces to permit safe and fluid interpersonal interactions.

Many companies appear to be contemplating a hybrid work arrangement which can include some people working remotely all of the time and most in the physical workspace at least some of the time. In-office or remote depends on the position and person as well as personal circumstances.

Which scenario you will be in the future needs some careful consideration about the type of work, hard and soft costs of remote vs. in-person, individual capabilities, and of course your own personal style and abilities to manage. (We’d be pleased to assist you in navigating these decisions.)

Another consideration is whether you will offer the vaccine.  Note, I did not say “require” the vaccine. It is my opinion that requiring the vaccine will be a risky proposition for most organizations although each organization must consider their own circumstances. Seek legal advice to work through the case law into privacy and human rights and how they might apply to your organization.) Also, I am very confident we should not be internally publishing who has and hasn’t had the vaccine or the virus, so please don’t go there. Offering the vaccine may be worth considering just as you may offer the annual influenza vaccine.

To get ready for the full return, I suggest the following:

  1. Select your Option: Start with identifying whether your organization is coming back in person 0%, 100%, or somewhere in between.
  2. Plan the Return: Whichever option you choose, you still have to clarify the following:
    • If 100% in-person or hybrid:
      • The space planning for who will be where,
      • Which COVID protocols (handwashing, hand sanitation, occupancy requirements, directional arrows) will remain and which can be eased or removed,
      • Who returns first and how they will be oriented back to the workplace;
      • How to handle future covid exposures or illnesses;
      • Identifying and sharing who is in-house and who is remote;
      • Meeting methods, communication tools, information privacy and security management;
      • Vacation planning (people saving up vacations will want to take them, so don’t get caught with everyone off at the same time); and of course,
      • Ramping back up to full operating capacity.
    • If 0% in-person or hybrid:
      • How to handle home office costs (particularly if you have space for the person in office) and technology difficulties for those remote;
      • How to manage, lead, build teams, etc. in what will be a new to you model of working;
      • Identifying and sharing who is working or not (vacation, sick, etc.) to colleagues who need to connect with them;
      • How to foster balance and mental health when you do not see your people regularly;

In all three models, you will also have to consider how to proceed if an employee cannot or does not want to return to the model you have chosen.

Finally, although we have blogged this before, it may be time to review policies and procedures for what to do if sick, how much sick time people get, operation closures, health and safety protocols (emergencies including pandemics) and of course, employment agreements to ensure all are updated to recognize our newly found wisdom.

We’d love to hear from you which post-pandemic option you are planning for.