In the wake of the revival of life and action, and the work from home concept hackneyed to death. Offices are getting ready to welcome back its inhabitants, corporate leaders are planning for the safety of their employees, families maybe are relieved to see their office goers leave the home turf. But what is the employee thinking? Is he/she ready to return?

There is a mixed bag for sure, and is purely dependent on every individuals’ commitments, commute, and complexities. Some cant wait to don the office attire and drive to work, while a few others are reluctant to let go of the comfort of this new found home love, while several others are non-committal and ready to accept the norms with the casual shrug of shoulders.

But this article is not about employee state of mind, instead it is about, if they are returning what will they expect to see in their new offices? What are the things that they wish to see in place to make the office coming worthwhile and winning? My expectations are listed below:

Hygiene: The squeaky clean is no longer a fancy phrase but a paramount reality that we wish to see implemented at workspaces. From entry to exit every infrastructure bit needs to be cleaned and sanitized regularly through the day, assuring complete safety. Washrooms can no longer afford to be ignored, as it happens normally. The clean regimen must be enforced with more rigour and routine. In house personnel must be trained sufficiently to adopt clean practices and need to work in shifts to avoid lapses owing to long hours.

Sunlight: Let sun be in, the cooped-up office cubicles must shift swiftly making way for more naturally well-lit workplaces.  Big glass panes allowing light, air, and view to come in will help the indoor atmosphere. Offices must include areas where employees can step out and work under a green cover inhaling better air. Facilities to have lunch and coffee breaks in the outdoors can work wonders on the mood and help reduce staying closeted.

Space: Give me my space has taken on a new meaning, and no longer can we have 5 employees working in a room meant for 3. Sufficient cubicle/desk space is required, and employees must consciously stay away from hanging out together for breaks. Enjoy your solo coffees and restrict your chit chat to collaboration tools. Leverage internal chats and other connecting tools and of course phones to reach out to your colleagues within the office. Avoid printing as much, so that you save trees and don’t have to touch the copier.

Snacks: Snacking at work over samosas and stuff has been all our favourite past times. Pack healthy home cooked food until the red flags are off, we still do not know who has touched or where the pre-packaged foods come from. Carry your own water, and if you must have a store-bought product, sanitize them before you break it open.  Sharing food with colleagues maybe fun, but not just yet as this involves close contact and physical touching.

Greenery: Even without the pandemic having indoor plants makes the office atmosphere pleasant.  The indoor air quality becomes healthier with plants. Including an indoor garden like arrangement can be wonderful and it can work as an area for employees to hang out during break times at a safe distance from each other. In fact only standing meetings can be held here too instead of 8 – 10 employees rubbing shoulders over an oblong table.

Hours: One of the best aspects is reducing the number of hours so that there is limited face time within the office confines. 4-day weeks or reduced hours everyday may help both organizations and employees come to term with resuming work and to see how things pan out rather than doing it at one go.

Medical: Round the clock medical facilities will hold the key to providing an overall sense of wellbeing within the office environment. Trained doctors who can proactively share critical Covid updates will help the keep teams informed and unalarmed. Also, what will help is the doctors conducting tests frequently will give a sense of safety to the employee.

There are several other factors that can make the 2021 workplace safe, enjoyable and making the return worthwhile. However, let us make small beginnings and slowly the optimum and ideal workspace will emerge.

Bhuvana Rajaram

Independent Writer and Founder of Beautiful Times

(Blog that caters to Lifestyle themes, Content Strategy topics and hosts simple English expressions videos)

Photo credit: Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

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