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  • Writer's pictureJohn R.

A Strategy for Business Office Recovery

As state and local governments loosen up their emergency orders and restrictions on the impacts of COVID-19, you need to have a game plan for how and when to re-start your business offices and start to get to the next normal.

If you haven’t done so, it’s time to develop a strategy and plan to recall the staff to the office.

In some organizations, there may be staff that are reluctant or are unable to return to the office (e.g., they have children or loved ones they need to care for at home). For some entities, there may be staff that eagerly want to return to work. Additionally, you may have discovered that certain functions can be successfully performed remotely.

You must have a strategy that addresses all three scenarios. In any case, it is critical to gauge employees’ overall readiness to come back to the office.

Procedures for accommodating visitors (known or critical vendors, clients, contractors) to the office as well as the timing of on-site group meetings and events should be taken into consideration. As a priority, you may consider restricting or banning non-critical visitors during the initial phases of recovery.

After following guidance from the CDC and several state and local authorities and in consultations with several of our clients, we have developed the following recovery strategy.

We hope that this addresses what may become best practices:

1. Establish Key Risk Indicators:

· The overall state of staff health welfare and wellness

· Schedules for regular maintenance and cleanliness of office facilities, desks, elevators, conference rooms etc.

· Provisions for checking health and conducting wellness testing of staff

· Availability and frequency of public transportation

· Technology infrastructure to support remote and on-site staffs

· Availability of critical supply chains (office maintenance staff, food supplies/delivery, public transportation, personal protection equipment etc.)

· The quality of customer support and risk management functions, and the health of revenue recovery.

2. Identify/Phase in of Critical Support Staff Needed on Site:

· Analyze business units to identify critical functions/staff skills that are required onsite, and those that can continue to be performed remotely

· Segment staff headcount in those business units that are needed to perform critical functions on site (e.g., revenue generation or client-facing functions)

· Establish guidelines and processes for workplace interaction and social distancing

· Decrease the number of seats in conference rooms and open workspace areas

· Clean and test unused equipment and all workspaces

· Determine a phased approach to the recovery of all business functions (e.g., 20% in month 1, 40% in month 2, 80% in month 3, etc.), or by function (senior management, HR those with private offices or those who cannot perform their functions remotely)

· Limit on site access to critical staff, known or critical vendors, contractors and suppliers or clients during the initial phase(s)

· Develop checklists to monitor key risk indicators, issues and problems

· Implement a tracking and reporting structure to the management team.

3. Utilize Support Operations Across Multiple Cities or Geographies:

· Where possible, leverage staff and skills available in other cities or geographic locations (where local emergency orders have been lifted) that can perform critical functions, as the office staff are phased back to the office.

4. Implement Professional Health Care Screening on Site:

· Contract with health care professional services firm(s) to provide regular, on site health screening of the staff and visitors – or- augment screening capabilities the building management company provides or implements for building tenants

· Consider the office layout and the options of changing open seating to accommodate social distancing and/or installing clear partitions between positions.

· Keep track of the number of staff and visitors to the office on a regular basis

· Track these numbers and issues and feed into KRI reporting and the management team.

5. Develop Targets and Milestones to Track Staff Testing/Immunities:

· Develop a plan to regularly test staff and visitors

· Identify and track those that test positive for C-19, those that require medical attention, those that are required to self-quarantine etc.

· Track trends, milestones and feed these into KRI reporting and the management team.

6. Have a Fallback Plan to Address Hot Spots or Resurgence of Infections:

· Develop a fallback plan if there is a significant resurgence of infections

· Determine trigger points that would force the closure of the office and return to remote workforce (e.g., resurgence of infections and hospitalizations in local city or area, surge in staff who test positive for C-19 etc.)

7. Develop an Action Plan and Document Actions, Issues etc.:

· Keep track of all actions taken, tactical adjustments to the overall strategy, lessons learned etc.

· Re-evaluate the overall BCP and update the pandemic plan with lessons learned and any changes that were made or are being considered

While this list is not all inclusive, we believe it’s a good starting point to gather your thoughts and focus your energy.

As part of our Business Continuity Management practice, we are beginning to counsel our clients about recovery strategies. Feel free to reach out for a consultation on how we can help you.

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