As the economy begins to reopen, competition will be intense. Organizations will seek to quickly and effectively reactivate, redeploy and reengage people. Every company wants to regain productivity and competitiveness, without compromising their employees’ health and safety. Most organizations tell us they will need to bring people back in phases, and Steelcase has developed science-based and data-driven guidelines for each stage:

The focus is on safety first, while virus concerns are still high. We offer ideas for how to retrofit existing furniture and floor plans, as well as new safety protocols to help get organizations up and running as quickly as possible. Up to 50% of the workforce will be coming back to the office, while the rest continue to work from home.

Safety remains paramount as more people return; up to 75% or all employees are in the office again. At this stage, organizations will likely need to explore ways to reconfigure, using a combination of existing furniture and new solutions that allow for a safe increase in workplace density.

The speed at which science can provide treatments and a vaccine will impact the pace of change, but lessons from this pandemic will likely impact organizations indefinitely – now it’s time to reinvent. Leaders should think ahead about planning for disruption, and create workplaces that are adaptable, so they can respond rapidly to changes, whether it’s an epidemic, weather event or economic shift.

We believe the overarching focus throughout must be the safety and the physical, cognitive and emotional wellbeing of people. Addressing these issues will help people reengage and thrive in the post-COVID world. We will all return to the workplace changed in some way, and companies must continue to strive to create a work experience that strengthens community, creativity, and productivity.