It’s been almost a year and a half since millions of businesses left their offices and made the switch to a remote work environment. Now, many employees are returning to the office, and embracing the “new normal.” One thing is certain: COVID-19 changed the way companies operate, and those changes are likely here to stay. Even businesses that have continued in-person operations throughout the pandemic are sure to keep certain practices that were implemented, such as enhanced sanitation, into the future.

The truth is, businesses can’t immediately transition to their pre-COVID operations. The health and safety of employees and customers should remain a top priority. While the world is on the road to recovery, it is important to evaluate how this new post-COVID phase will affect the way your business operates.

In addition to maintaining a safe office space, think about how your business may need to adapt to ensure the customer experience is equally as safe. While the pandemic made many consumers realize the convenience of e-commerce and online activities, consider creative ways to ensure comfortability of customers while ensuring the resiliency of your business.

Put Safety First

While the increased number of COVID-19 vaccinated Americans is providing a sense of relief and return to “business as usual” for many, simply rearranging or rethinking the setup of your office space can offer an extra safeguard during this transition period. For instance, encourage social distancing in meetings and offer flexible schedules so not everyone is in the office at the same time.

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At DHL and many other essential businesses, some of our employees have been working remotely, while others have continued their in-person roles at facilities throughout the pandemic. From a workplace perspective, our operations facilities were reconfigured to reflect the requirements of a socially distancing workforce, with changes such as one-way directional walkways, socially distanced packing areas and hand sanitizer stations. If you manage an essential business, think about keeping certain procedures in place that will make employees feel safe even as the vaccine rollout becomes more widespread.

Be Flexible

A recent study showed more than half of employees prefer a hybrid model. “Hoteling” desks could offer a solution for employees who only want to come into the office a few times a month without having to commit to a permanent space. Workers also said that the best way employers can support them as they return to the office is by offering the freedom to choose their work schedule, paid commuting costs, a distraction-free workplace and relaxed dress codes.

As companies navigate new ways of working and start to implement new guidelines advised by the CDC, it is essential to minimize the risk to employees while making the transition as accommodating as possible. At the same time, to enable the smooth operation of continued remote working, consider upgrading your information systems and network infrastructure to be capable of supporting a distributed workforce that provides access to appropriate data and systems.

Embrace Adaptability

In the middle of the pandemic lockdown, many businesses had to shift their entire business model to not only keep employees safe but also their customers. Restaurants solely relied on takeout orders and retail stores amped up their online presence and accelerated their digital marketing strategies to keep up with the demands of the rise in e-commerce. If your business has not thought about ways to go digital or offered alternative ways of conducting business for customers who may not be comfortable with in-person interactions, now is the time to do so.

One way we have strived to offer a more convenient and safe shipping experience for our customers is by opening several mobile pop-up stores across the country, including in the Washington D.C. area and Southern California. These unique stores have provided greater accessibility and allowed customers to conduct all their transactions via an easy-access service window without having to enter the store – all part of a way to take into account consumers’ preferences while at the same time allowing us to serve even more customers in the community.

How has your company’s operations changed as a result of the pandemic? Let us know on Twitter @DHLUS.

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