Just another day in the office 

As certain businesses get the green light to open up here in Ontario, everyone is thinking about when the return to the retail office space will be. For some, maybe it’s already started.

Many of us have, at this point in our isolation, created some pretty great work spaces of our own in the comfort of our homes. Plenty of us have also made up our mind on how we feel with regards to remote work. Are you all for it? Do you need to get back into the office? Or do you want to create a flexible schedule that includes both office and remote work?

Whether you’re eager to get back or hoping to stay home a little while longer, I think we can all agree that no matter when that day comes – things will need to change for us to return. 

The parking lots in Kanata North might still be pretty empty, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t planning and preparing for the return! We chatted with the team from KRP Properties to find out more about what we can expect heading back to the physical office with COVID-19 still a part of the equation. 

Check out what the team from KRP had to say

What challenges will we face as employees and/or employers as the return to office begins? 

For many employees, it will be the status of school closures and/or child care. Others will be overcoming any anxiety with what will be the ‘new normal’.  Protocols and safety measurements will be a challenge for both sides here.

As an employer, protocols and, determining from an HR and business operation perspective, how to balance in-person, in-office work with the option/necessity/desire to work from home.  Logistically, ensuring physical distancing measures and establishing office protocol for the protection of their staff will be new territory for.  

Do you think that most teams will continue working remotely rather than return to the office?

What we’ve seen so far, is that businesses are realizing now more than ever the value of collaborative spaces for their teams to quickly and easily bounce ideas off one another. 

On the other hand working remotely and having the ability to utilize technology to its fullest has played such a vital role in enabling employees to remain productive during these times. In the end, the majority want to see a return to ‘normal’ as a way of alleviating some of the stresses that have come out of working from home.

A few of our tenants, being largely tech-based, were already taking advantage of the flexibility of work-from-home opportunities before quarantine was imposed. While there may certainly be a gradual shift towards more of that option, the need for office space is far from dead. 

If we see large numbers of teams that continue to work remotely, how can property management companies prepare to deal with that?

It’s all a matter of how tenants wish to restructure their workplace and/or work force.

From reconfiguration of suites to manage the physical distancing, to potential downsizing, to accommodate the reduced staff in office vs home. Many tenants have invested in the open and collaborative environments with their office furniture, therefore, the likelihood will be redistribution and reconfiguration and the installation of additional protection ie partitions/plexiglass.

The challenge will be those tenants wishing to downsize ahead of or at lease renewal and our having the ability to accommodate.

What are some of the things your team is seeing as employers prepare for the return to office?

Many businesses are reaching out for details on what safety protocols and measures will be in place upon the return of their employees to the workplace. We’ve actually prepared a handbook and will be distributing it to all tenants prior to offices being reopened. 

In the same breath, others are wanting to ensure that it will be ‘business as usual’ as soon as their offices re-open. Striking a balance between added health and safety measures and our former ‘normal’ lifestyles is a challenge, but one we must all accept and learn from.  

What can employees/teams do to help ease this transition period for themselves?  

Communicating company strategies early in the back-to-work planning process will give teams time to prepare mentally and physically for yet another change. Keeping open lines of communication amongst teams, leaders and staff is important at the best of times and should certainly take priority, especially now.  

Do you think that there’s an overall benefit to being in the office vs working remotely? 

Absolutely! 

Working remotely certainly has a number of benefits. That being said, even with tools such as video conferencing and chat rooms, you can’t replace the unscheduled brainstorming sessions by the water cooler, or the level of personal comfort that comes from in-person, human interactions.  

It’s safe to say that, whatever your stance on the topic, we still have some time to go before things completely go back to work pre-COVID. Maybe it never really will.

All we know for certain, is that when we finally get to see our colleagues + community members in-person again, it will be a reunion for the books!

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