As life in many parts of the United States start to regain a sense of normalcy, offices across the country are opening or preparing to reopen. In Pennsylvania, where Voice Systems Engineering is headquartered, all COVID-related mandates have been lifted, and businesses are allowed to operate in pre-pandemic capacity if they choose.
The decision of when and how to bring employees back to the office can be a difficult one. Many employees still have concerns about returning to work in person. After all, it has been over a year for many of us who have had the privilege of working from home during the height of the pandemic. Health concerns, as well as scheduling and childcare, are still top of mind. For some, working from home during the pandemic unleashed a whole new way of working. For others, returning to the office will provide a much-needed space to focus and create more separation between work and home.
VSE’s headquarters recently opened once the state lifted its restrictions. Our office is now open and ready for vaccinated employees to return if they would like. There is no mandated schedule to be in the office, and the hybrid work option remains the most popular by far.
All VSE employees need to do to return to the office is submit a copy of their vaccination card to human resources, and their desk will be waiting for them. However, many employees took their hardware home over the course of the last year and a half to enhance their work from home offices. For employees who aren’t ready to come back 100% of the time, there are a couple of options. The simplest is to just bring their laptop to the office and work through the Wi-Fi. The second option is to dock at a hoteling desk to use a monitor or two.
To facilitate the reopening of the office, facilities manager Ed Garibaldi has been working closely with our IT team to set up our Envoy system. Originally, VSE used Envoy to check visitors or contractors in and streamline deliveries. During the pandemic, Envoy re-engineered its system to include a whole host of helpful features that support hybrid work and a return to the office.
Take the scenario that an employee wanted to work in the office on a big project with their team. But they took their monitors and docking station home last fall, and just a laptop won’t cut it. Instead of lugging all that equipment back to the office, employees can start by downloading and registering on the Envoy app. To work at a different desk than their default spot, employees have the option in the app to reserve another desk based on their hardware requirements. The system will only allow reservations for a hoteling desk compatible with what employees were assigned and mapped out for by the IT team.
According to Ed, another feature that the Envoy system has is that “if you are going to be in next Thursday, you can see who else is going to be there. If there are only a couple of people, you can invite other people to join you. You have the ability to see other people's in-office schedules and invite them to come in those days.”
Aside from requiring a vaccination record, no other mandates are in effect for those returning to the office. Ed increased the frequency and scope of cleanings in anticipation of the employee's return. There are also multiple disinfecting stations on each floor with hand sanitizer, disinfecting spray, paper towels, and Clorox wipes. Employees who choose to come back are also greeted by a welcome table with custom VSE masks and hand sanitizers.
As a bonus, Ed remarks that “If another pandemic hits, we have a lot of supplies!”
The way of working at VSE is always developing and expanding to include new, innovative ideas. We look forward to integrating remote and in-office work for an impactful, sustainable model.