On my daily walk around Manchester City Centre, I’ve noticed that a lot of infrastructure and repair work is being carried out on roads and buildings. The local council is taking advantage of low traffic levels to carry out jobs that would otherwise be difficult to achieve in the normal routine of life. This has prompted me to think about how to make the best use of the lockdown time as we approach an easing of restrictions and to consider what the ‘new normal’ for the workplace might be post COVID-19.

If you run your own business, manage a team or operate as a remote worker, here are a few points that may be worth thinking about.

1. Offices

Whatever the next phase looks like, it’s unlikely you will return to working in the same way as before. Flexible working feels like it’s here to stay for most people. In this context, it’s worth thinking about what your offices are for and what you will do with them when this situation is over.

  • Check Your Lease:  Working from home has been a success for many and it raises the question - why would you continue to commit to renting so much expensive office space? Now would be a good time to check any lease agreements if you haven’t done so already. Look for break clauses and make sure you are ready to execute them if you want to downsize - it’s easy to miss these and be committed for longer than you want.
  • Change of Use: If offices are to remain relevant their use may need to be different. Maybe they could become social hubs where face to face meetings take place for client and supplier interactions, or hot-desks where people can work flexibly and collaboratively in the future?
  • Survey Your Employees: Use this time to ask your employees how they would like to work after lockdown ends. Has remote working been successful for them? Could it be the new normal for your business? If you choose to continue with remote working, was it a temporary fix or will you need to invest in a more robust and permanent solution?

Whatever you think, it’s worth starting to plan any changes you might want to make. It’s a lot easier to repurpose an empty office than a full one!

2. IT Infrastructure

Having empty office space presents a great opportunity for you to carry out work without the risk of disruption in a busy office. Here are a few ideas of things that could be done right now. 

  • Computer rooms: They can get in a mess, so it's a great time to get your cabinets tidied and old or redundant equipment removed.
  •  Wi-Fi:  Is this driving you mad with blackspots and variable performance?  Do you need a survey to check whether you need to move your access points or put some more in?
  • Cabling: Consider running some more cabling if you have offices that have been missed in the past.
  • Meeting Rooms:  There will still be plenty of meetings in the future but most likely with many more people joining remotely. Now may be the time to standardise your meeting infrastructure to make it easier to use and save time and effort in the future.

3. Planning

If nothing else the whole COVID-19 crisis should have taught us that contingency planning is a great idea. Those who were better prepared for the crisis have no doubt done better than those who weren’t. The next stage of planning should start now.

  • Platform: How has your existing software and hardware platform stood up? If you have felt pain points, then getting a plan together to resolve these is a great move. Most people agree that the arguments in support of moving to the cloud have been justified through this crisis. Now might be the time to make your move.
  • Business Continuity Plans (BCP): Did your BCP adequately prepare you for the COVID-19 situation? Identify key learnings and other areas of risk and build them into your plan in case they happen in the future.