It is time to get back to work—but we all know work is going to look a little bit different going forward than it has in the past. There isn’t an exact science to opening the doors, but there is some good advice on what to avoid and how to prepare when construction and manufacturing plants open the doors and workers flood back to work.

If you are part of one of those companies that is beginning to consider how to ramp up work once again, start by putting a strategy together for returning to work in a way that is safe and successful for your business—and consider the following four tips before officially opening your doors.

We all have to start thinking about how to handle our employees, products, and supply chains. Times are a changing. Perhaps all we can do is hope for is a return to normal as we know it. But reality is it will not be the same, at least not in forceable future. So, we need to make sure we adapt to the new reality. And that new reality, at least for the time being, is to avoid any risks and present and unnecessary liability for the business and employees.


  1. Resilient decision making. One big challenge right now is operational leaders are under pressure to pivot their organizations. IDC predicts that by 2022, 80% of all industrial companies will have merged operational data streams with enterprise data streams to support broader and more rapid operational innovation. As this happens, companies will need to build a resilient organization. AI (artificial intelligence) can help. Gartner says AI can help improve decision making during the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic in five keyways: early detection and epidemic analysis, containment, triage and diagnosis, healthcare operations, and vaccine research and development.


  1. Improve safety. As companies begin to open their doors again, safety will become of the utmost importance. However, as organizations return to work, 55% of general counsels believe they are the least prepared to address employee safety decisions, according to Gartner. To help, it recommends using telematics and safety solutions, scheduling technology, sensors to monitor the supply chain, and virtual practices when possible. Companies should also practice social distancing with no visitor policies, scheduling shifts, new workplace designs, and pooling tasks on rotation, according to the analyst firm.


  1. Consider technology. While each industry differs, the general consensus is that technology can help reopen offices and enable teams to return to work in a way that is safe and productive. Let’s look at the construction industry as an example. Capture reality allows for a limited crew, while still having access to the jobsite. Data can be accessed remotely and managed spatially. By simply being more intentional about using 3D data, companies can better understand the project and manage crews more efficiently. IDC also offers post-COVID-19 recovery guides for CIOs to determine how to best scenario plan and update cybersecurity architecture, among other efforts.


  1. Prepare for the future of work. Perhaps one of the most important steps is to prepare yourself that the future of work is going to look very different from how we worked even just four months ago. Forrester recently released a new report called The Future of Work Starts Now, identifying the four shocks that will emerge in the “roaring 2020s.” This includes: systemic risk makes every company a globally exposed enterprise; robots and automation have barely begun to make you feel their presence; employee data is a tsunami that is about to drown you in obligations and possibilities; and employee power, like customer power before it, will redefine workforce strategy.

Business owners and leaders need to be prepared for the future of work. They need to recognize vulnerabilities and build strengths to manage the inevitable risks that are already here and will continue to emerge. Perhaps, most importantly, they need to have a strong vision, yet be agile, and leverage new technologies faster than ever before. Industries were already headed in this direction prior to the pandemic, and now it is being sped up. Are you ready?

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