There are few – if any – businesses and offices that weren’t affected by the transformative impact of the pandemic in the last year. The coronavirus, lockdown and new government regulations have all meant that business owners in all industries have had to re-evaluate their ways of working.

Whether you’ve had to make small but significant adjustments to your business – like introducing remote and flexible working options far quicker than you’d previously anticipated – or you’ve had to pivot the business entirely, you’ve likely not gotten through it unaffected. As the virus continues its hold on the planet and as you gear up for 2021, you may need to make some decisions on how you’d like your workplace to look this year. We’ve compiled some prompts to help you ensure you’re covering all bases.

  1. Keep in mind your workforce is made up of individuals

While you may have issued blanket guidelines in terms of ways of working, every employee will have had a different experience of lockdown, and you’ll need to account for these differences. Take an individual approach to your collective workforce while you incorporate the government guidelines into your business. It’s also worth asking your employees for feedback on what you’ve proposed, and adjusting it for 2021 where needed.

One factor to keep in mind is whether you’d want to enforce your company’s new rules to the letter, or give your workforce the freedom of choice. While it can seem like keeping everyone’s schedules consistent will make life easier for everyone, your employees are all individuals which means what works for one may not work for another. Let each of your teams make decisions for themselves by providing them with options rather than instructions. Of course, you’d want to keep an eye on efficiency and productivity while this is happening; this is best done by asking for regular feedback.

  1. Keep the COVID safety measures going

Some businesses may require their employees to work from the business premises. Your employees may also feedback that they’d like to work from the office if possible. If either of these are the case for you, make sure you’ve spent some time consulting COVID safety guidelines and ensuring the workplace adheres to them. You may also want to provide sanitation stations or additional cleaning equipment (such as wipes, masks or disposable gloves) so employees can feel empowered about their own safety. You may also want to take this as an opportunity to check your ventilation systems, get a specialist cleaner to give your office a deep clean, as well as test and clean any specialist equipment used.

  1. Think about the bigger changes you could make

Speaking of making changes, the new year might be the time to make bigger changes to your business too. Use this transformative time as an opportunity to reset aspects of your business, solidify some of the operational changes you’d always wanted to make, or explore ways to make your workplace greener. For example, you may want to use this time to switch your business into one more focused on eco-friendliness, recycling or other green initiatives. You can implement smaller touches such as adorning the space with more plants, or go ahead with bigger changes from reviewing your suppliers and exploring environmentally-friendly options, to assessing water usage and installing water-saving measures such as aerators on taps.

  1. Embrace digital in new and improved ways

Many business owners found that lockdown forced them to quickly find ways to convert their business into a more digital-based model. As you head into 2021, you may want to continue exploring further ways to enhance your digital offering; staying ahead of your competitors in the process. Some options include investing in high-speed WiFi, assisting employees with their broadband packages, purchasing remote-working software, allowing employees to work in different time zones and even training staff on ways to use social media to promote the business.

  1. Your people are your business – prioritise their wellbeing

However you’d like to tackle the suggestions above as you decide your business goals in 2021, you may want to ensure you’re keeping your people at the forefront. While workplace culture has always been important, keeping your team motivated and working well together is even more paramount now. The way you, as their employer, reacts to this crisis will directly affect how your employees behave, so it’s important to temper your approach as much as possible. Try to be positive and encouraging while still maintaining transparency and honesty. If your employees have the support they need, and are assured that you’ve put them at the forefront of your planning, they’ll have the motivation needed to keep your business flourishing through even the toughest of times.

Hasna Haidar is a digital researcher and writer. Having covered a variety of topics for various publications, her current focus is on topics around conservation, technology, business and entrepreneurship, and social action and awareness.

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