Reopening and reinventing after lockdown

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After weeks of lockdown and strict work from home due to the Corona virus pandemic, economies in many countries are slowly opening up, employees are returning to their desks in the offices. However, reopening does not mean going back to life before the virus outbreak. The way of working has changed forever, it will never be the same as it was before the Covid-19 crisis. Remote work is the new norm and became acceptable overnight. Make sure your organization is ready for this new era:

Remain flexible

First of all, your reopening will not be a straightforward waterfall project plan. At this point in time, nobody is able to predict what the Corona crisis curve is going to look like. So you need to be prepared to navigate with new information at any time. We all are going to learn as we go. OpenProject allows you to combine classic and agile project management and provides you with the flexibility needed to plan your reopening.

Embrace digitalization

Due to the drastic changes in the work environment and the uncertainty about the coming periods, the reopening also means that organizations have to reinvent themselves. There is a need for more digitalization, more data insights, becoming more agile and automated to respond to the market’s needs. Try to see the changes not as a threat but as an opportunity. There might be potential in e-commerce for you, your teams can become more agile by working remotely, virtual tools can generate higher efficiency etc.

Return to the office

Reopening gets many thinking “going back to the office”. If you are planning to have your employees back in the office, make sure to have the physical space changes to allow for social distancing as well as hygiene measures in place. You want to provide a safe and secure work environment. Plan for alternating remote working and office presence for your teams, including working hours. Make sure to protect your most valuable, your employees, and also think of supporting households. Schools or kindergarten may only open later or in phases, not allowing every employee to participate in a rigid office hour plan.

Stay connected

Whatever you decide regarding the return to the office (full force, remotely or hybrid model), you need to make sure that you keep communicating to everyone – be they working from home or in the office. And your employees must be able to engage amongst each other. Virtual tools will facilitate this and make collaboration more effective. These can include tools for project management, web meetings, chats, document management etc. OpenProject is a web-based software and thus allows your team members to access information from anywhere at any time in real-time. This fosters transparency and responsibility amongst the team. In OpenProject, the news feature could be used to give everyone a regular short update up front. Team members can also notify each other with @name to exchange information. Or they can discuss a topic in a forum.

Communicate your goals

Make sure you communicate your goal and approach to reopening to your employees so that they are on board and support you. In OpenProject, you could e.g. use the roadmap to keep everyone up to date. And you can use the Wiki to share the mandatory and optional policies, who is going first to the office etc with your employees.

Foster agile working

Organizations have to find their way to deal with the new reality: remote working. Though teams in the same location show a higher productivity and better decision making, remote working teams can be even more agile. And on top, agile working can facilitate and make remote team work more effective. Virtual tools support your remote teams and OpenProject offers plenty of agile project management features, e.g. agile boards or backlogs. As a web-based tool, everyone can access information from anywhere at any time on OpenProject making it ideal for remote work.

Improve time management

When office hours and the workforce are cluttered, you might want to track your employee’s capacities and billable hours. If you are choosing a web-based project management tool with integrated time tracking like OpenProject, you can track all information in one place.

Support your team’s mental health

In order to have a dedicated, motivated team, ensure that your employees are in a safe space mentally. Let them know about your organization’s strategy as well as the reopening plan. Provide trainings for leaders to manage their teams in this remote environment and give them technical support. Moreover, make sure you are not having too many calls to give your employees time to work efficiently without too many interruptions. And ideally, work and spare time (esp. weekends) are strictly separated. Your employees will appreciate if you grant them free access to online sports videos or classes. Physical and mental health go together.

Get ready for this new phase after lockdown! If you like, we have more tips on a daily remote working routine for your team here.