Face coverings. Workspace reconfiguration. Social distancing.
When tech employees packed up their laptops and desk calendars to wait out the COVID-19 pandemic last spring, they might have envisioned their office space patiently awaiting their return. But as cases continue to rise and fall around the country, governors aren’t the only ones with a responsibility to take as many precautionary measures as possible when planning the reopening of businesses.
The duty falls on employers and company leadership as well. Take SpotHero’s VP of People Nikki Facchini, for example.
“The most important consideration when developing SpotHero’s return to office plan was the health and safety of our employees,” said Facchini.
In order to prioritize her team’s wellbeing, the Chicago tech professional said only a quarter of the workforce will be able to return to the office this fall –– for now. Sanitation and social distancing procedures will be in full effect. And for employees uncomfortable with the idea of returning? They’ll be able to work remotely as the situation evolves.
First, tell us about your current plans for returning to the office.
We are developing plans to return to the office in September at 25-percent capacity. We will operate at this capacity for a period of time, likely four to six weeks, before we will increase to 50-percent capacity. We developed new policies and procedures regarding social distancing, sanitation and hygiene. We would like those to be in effect for a period of time so we can adjust accordingly, if necessary, before a larger group returns.
What were the most important steps you took to develop this plan?
The most important consideration when developing SpotHero’s return to office plan was the health and safety of our employees. We have been closely monitoring guidance from state and local officials. We decided early that we would not be the first employer to resume office operations. But our goal has always been to reopen the office for those who feel comfortable returning.
We also took our building management’s preparedness into consideration when determining the right time to return. As guidance continues to evolve, we continue to hold our building management to an appropriate standard so our employees feel comfortable in the building’s common areas and elevators.
We have been closely monitoring guidance from state and local officials.’’
Obviously, there are still a lot of unknowns around when it will be safe to return to the office at full capacity. How are you adapting to and preparing for these unknowns?
There are definitely a lot of unknowns regarding full capacity. We are maintaining a very flexible approach to our return plan. We have been transparent and communicative with our employees on this topic, sharing information as it becomes available. We also surveyed our employee population to learn when employees would feel comfortable returning. Employees who are not yet comfortable returning to the office will have the ability to work remotely while our plan continues to evolve.
Our employees’ health and safety will remain at the forefront of every decision. Using that as our guiding principle will allow us to make the best decision for our team.