For many tech companies like TTT, the calls to open up the economy and go back to work feel misdirected. We never stopped working—now we just work from home. You could say the COVID-19 pandemic brought new meaning to TTT being “100% in-house.” Ha. Ha.
Although TTT already had a work from home policy, the COVID-19 pandemic meant going fully remote for an indefinite period of time. Now that the BC provincial government implemented Phase 2 of their Restart Plan which allows some businesses and offices to open, we’ve carefully crafted our own back to work guidelines (mentioned below).
The ups and downs of working from home
TTT is privileged to be in an industry where working from home is an option. All things considered, we’re grateful to be in our position with motivated team members supporting each other from home.
While many enjoy the benefits of remote working—no commute, quick access to home amenities and possibly better focus—it’s not all on the upside. Some individuals feel more productive when they are physically in a different environment or surrounded by people.
Also, some of us have been working from home with children. While we love them, we might not be amazing at homeschooling and might be exhausted from the flurry of people being stuck at home together.
The pandemic also showed us just how connected the TTT team felt while in the office. In pre-pandemic times, we held a lot of in-office activities (yoga sessions, boxing lessons, lunch and learns, office happy hours etc.). We’ve had to get creative and find other ways to keep a sense of cohesiveness within the team, and make it so that people don’t feel too isolated.
Our social committee worked hard to make sure everyone still felt part of the TTT community.
Why the time is right to go back to work (for us)
British Columbia is the home of Vancouver’s International airport which connects to over 125 locations around the world and had over 25.9 million passengers in 2018 alone. You would think that the province would’ve been harder hit by the pandemic, but surprisingly that’s not the case.
Thankfully, BC didn’t require a true lockdown that involved law enforcement. Many people voluntarily stayed home, non-essential businesses went online if they could and companies like ours did our small part by going fully remote back in March.
Given the province’s stellar pandemic response (so far) and that other businesses are reopening as part of Phase 2 of the Restart Plan, we deliberated on whether to reopen our office. After careful consideration, we decided that we will proceed with a strict and comprehensive safety plan.
How we’re reopening our downtown office
First of all, I’d like to point to some great guidelines from WorkSafe BC and the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade that should be every employer’s first stop in planning a return to work strategy. We want to share our own policy here in hopes that other companies can benefit from the information, and we encourage others to do the same!
The most important part of TTT’s policy is that coming into the office is completely optional. Every team member can choose to continue working from home if they wish, especially if they want to avoid public transit. Our first priority is to make sure people are safe.
We’re taking many carefully designed measures for sanitation and social distancing. They are detailed in our Return to Office policy below.
COVID-19 Return to Work Policy
May 11, 2020
This return to work policy was designed using best practices as well as data provided by the federal and provincial governments of Canada. For more information feel free to read the WorkSafe BC guidelines here.
We will return to “NORMAL” in phases, however, the #1 rule predicates all phases.
If you want to work from home, work from home. This rule is dynamically set until January 1, 2021, but can be updated at any time.
- Please inform the Office and Community Coordinator by Thursday, May 14 if you wish to return on the week of the 19th. This way we can stagger the return in two groups initially to make sure we have enough space between each workstation.
- You can return to the office using public transit but please wear face masks and gloves during transit.
- Maintain a two (2) metre distance between yourself and anyone else
- NON-TTT staff are NOT permitted in the office unless cleared by management
- The coffee machine and the microwave (as well as any other communal food stations) are off limits.
- Starbucks should be open for pick up (using Starbucks app), and many other restaurants and coffee shops are looking to re-open.
- Consider bringing your own single-serve meals, dishes and cutlery – coffee mug, water bottle, etc. and take them home each day to wash. No sharing of meals or delivery of take-out. Use sanitizing wipes or other products to clean up after yourself.
- Lysol wipes will be provided at each workstation
- Everyone must clean their work stations with Lysol wipes every four hours (two times a day)
- Meeting rooms must be cleaned after use
- Every four hours, doorknobs and other communal touchpoints will be cleaned by the Office and Community Coordinator (if a touchpoint is discovered that is not being cleaned, please inform the Office and Community Coordinator to be added to the list)
- NON-TTT staff is permitted into the office space but no office events are to occur until further notice
- Yoga and boxing exercises can take place with enough social distance spacing
- Lunch-and-learns can commence again with enough social distance spacing
- Coffee machine and microwave (as well as any other communal food stations) MAY be accessed
- Elevators are high traffic and therefore high risk so, max 2 people per elevator.
- We suggest changing your regular hours, if you come, to arrive early and leave early to minimize elevator traffic
- NO SHAKING HANDS OR HUGS—maintain social distancing
- If you or anyone in your family shows any symptoms, you must isolate for two weeks and DO NOT come to the office
- In the case that someone potentially has COVID while at the office:
- Inform HR of the situation
- HR will inform the staff of the situation
- Everyone will stay in the office while 811 is called to get further instructions
Tasks that will be performed before May 19th
Updating all first aid kit items including purchasing a thermometer
The office will be professionally sanitized including carpets