“Lots of things will become new norms,” Rodgers said. He mentioned collaborative discussions between states, intentional communication with employees and increased equipment cleanliness once offices reopen.
“We’ll probably never return to whatever normal was,” agreed Georgia CIO Calvin Rhodes. “State staff can do a great job of working remotely, which will shape the model of the future.”
Rhodes also brought up when to welcome individuals back to work and how to manage individuals who continue to work remotely. Organizations must now be able to address individual needs as well as statewide ones.
Is It Possible to Do Social Distancing in an Office?
Whether from an office or a statehouse, officials must lead by example, attendees agreed. The tone for an office — whether it involves social distancing or wearing a mask — is set “at the top of the house,” according to Rodgers.
He referred to the daily press briefings given by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, who always enters and exits the room wearing a mask. Rodgers said leaders need to don the mask, encourage remote work and do what they can to get the economy working — which doesn’t mean a stampede back to the office.
Being smart and careful is the unifying thought behind returning to an office space. “We’ll shape our organizations by being good communicators,” Rhodes said. People are feeling uncomfortable, but we’re on the same team. He also mentioned possible procedures to be mindful of people’s health, like assigning bathrooms and breakrooms.
“We can be effective and do things differently,” he said, emphasizing the need for conversations around any new policies to promote a healthy working environment.