As all levels of government begin to take steps toward re-opening the country and restarting our economy, planning for the return to a physical workplace is quickly becoming a top priority for many organizations. With the guidelines for the pandemic continuing to evolve daily, there are many considerations, stages and factors employers need to assess in order to properly develop a robust action plan which can ensure the health and safety of their workforce.

Questions for your leadership team:

  • Can your organization continue to operate remotely for the near future without any significant challenges?
  • If productivity levels have not been impacted, is the cost of real estate necessary for the organization?
  • What is the mental health risk to your employees from continuing to work remotely?
  • How many employees need to be in a physical office to properly perform their roles?
  • How many employees depend on public transit to get to your office(s)?
  • Do you have the capabilities to screen, track and isolate infected employees to prevent the spread of the virus within the confines of a physical workplace?
  • Is there a reporting tool or dashboard in place to help manage, assess and report on your return to the workplace operations?

The KPMG perspective – A comprehensive, people-centric approach

Safely opening up and managing workplaces at this crucial juncture requires a people-centric rollout strategy with a strong operational framework in place, focusing on a COVID-19 task force, governance and risk; workplace preparation and management; and employee/worker and visitors' health and safety. Notably, employees – and the public at large – need to feel confident that employers are properly following government guidelines and best practice to successfully re-open and transition life back to a sense of normalcy.

By taking a thoughtful approach to their return to the physical workplace, organizations can embed the necessary steps to enable their post-COVID-19 new reality once the pandemic subsides. How will physical spaces need to be adjusted to prevent similar infection rates in the future? Will workers be keen to return to the office after they have embraced remote working?

Organizations need to assess how new ways of working will help them stay competitive and best serve their customers in this new reality.