7 factors for Perthies to Consider when Socially Distancing in the Workplace

There has never been a better time to live on the West Side of the Land Down Under! With cautious easing of COVID-19 restrictions in Perth, you can now enjoy Swan River’s beautiful views on your lunch break with 10 of your colleagues. Although you Perthies may not be restricted as much as our Eastern friends, social distancing measures still need to be enforced in the workplace. It’s hard to picture what to expect when returning back to the office but we have you covered! Here are our 6 factors to consider when social distancing in the workplace:

Social Norms

Social distancing must become a social norm in the workplace and in our everyday lives (yes, unfortunately that means keeping your distance when catching up with your friends for a picnic at Kings Park). Greeting norms will change and we hope you are used to virtual meetings because they are here to stay!

Greetings

It’s time to avoid physical greetings; handshakes are out, and look likely to remain in our pre-COVID lifestyle for some time to come. We’ve started to gain a glimpse of future social norms as organisations implement no greeting policies and even no visitor policies. Expect new safe-distance greetings and social norms to evolve as we settle back into creating a new working world.  

Relaxed Approach

Remote working has forced us to communicate digitally where many organisations have taken a more casual approach in delivering business communication to their employees. Could our leaders continue this communication approach when we return back to work? Expect a less formal communication style from your leader and if you’re lucky… some virtual Friday Afternoon Games (no need to stop at Adventure World on the way home)!

TEAM GATHERINGS

Online team building is the current trend but what about those fun amazing races that twist and turn throughout the streets  of Perth CBD? You definitely won’t be attending any large-scale conferences or events anytime soon but expect to be having fun outdoors with 9 of your colleagues (allowing for a facilitator of course!) in COVID safe team building programs, coming soon!

Flexible Work

Many organisations aren’t able to implement working from home policies for all employees due to a lack of resources or depending on their industry of work. Traditional 9-5 hours have been tested over the years with the increase use of technology and expect no different in the return to work; there will be less crowds around Elizabeth Quay… it’s remote working and rotating rosters until further notice!

Remote work & rotating rosters

Organisations have noticed significant benefits from employees working remotely. Reduced travel and use of online platforms have increased productivity. In many businesses, working from home is encouraged which means we could see less of our coworkers in the office on a daily basis. Alternatively; many other organisations are creating rotating rosters to accommodate to office capacity and social distancing laws. Expect to be working from home for some time to come or rotational shifts with your colleagues.

Use of Technology

Technology has allowed us to abide by social distancing laws and work remotely whilst staying connected. Virtual meetings and online work collaboration tools are flexible and have saved hours of travel time and physical interaction. A trip to Perth Airport for business meetings may be less frequent with limitations on essential travel requiring businesses to find alternatives to conduct business activities. Expect more virtual meetings, less travel and more online collaboration with remote coworkers.

Workplace Design

As restrictions start to ease, we need to make immediate change to our existing workplace design to accommodate safe and effective social distancing practices in the office. These forced restrictions limit the number of employees allowed in the office at the one time. The 1.5-meter distancing rule has been drilled into our brains over the past few weeks, now it’s time to practice social distancing in the workplace.

Office Layout

While your employer may not be able to take all of your team out for a day at Rottnest Island; considering the workplace at different occupancy levels to suit social distancing laws is paramount. In the past few decades, we have seen the evolution of open-plan working become routine in offices all over the country. But will COVID-19 revert us back to closed-plan layouts? Some organisations have even invested in plastic dividers to reduce physical interaction. Don’t expect to walk back to your normal desk with views of the Bell Tower, the office may look very different!

Visual Instructions

That’s right, we know you pass endless road signs when commuting to work down St Georges Terrace, but you’re about to see a whole lot more in the office!   Prepare to return to a colour-filled office; walls covered in visual instructions and road maps on the floor! Much like the supermarkets, more offices are exploring their creative side and implementing floor markings to outline the recommended distance.  Expect to see signs in lifts, boxed spaces around desks and map like arrows in a clockwise direction around the office.

There’s no doubt that COVID-19 will change our workplace norms forever. Although we can’t plan ahead, we can adapt to these changes with a positive attitude when we consider our expectations of returning to work. So Perthies, lets flip these challenges and turn them into opportunities to build workplaces of the future that are flexible, functional and essentially, people and culture focused.

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