Rebound KC: Burns and McDonnell offers advice for returning to the workplace

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Posted at 7:35 AM, May 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-26 08:35:47-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As cities and counties around Kansas City, Missouri, phase out parts of their stay-at-home orders and allow offices, retail stores and entertainment venues to reopen, things will look different for customers and employees.

41 Action News is committed to helping people adjust to how the coronavirus has changed life. The initiative is called The Rebound KC.

We went to Kansas City-based engineering and consulting firm Burns and McDonnell for advice on how to handle the return to work.

The company consistently receives awards as one of the best places to work in the city and country.

CEO Ray Kowalik said no one has a playbook breaking down exactly what to do when reopening offices and other businesses, but it’s important to take everyone’s viewpoint into account.

“Be very open to understanding coworkers may not have the same mindset as you do about the situation we’re in. I think you just need to be very careful and very nice to people,” he advised.

Burns and McDonnell sent a survey to the 95 percent of its employees currently working from home asking them how comfortable they feel about working in an office again. He said the majority feel isolated at home, but about a third of employees said they’re not ready to be back in a group setting.

Kowalik explained making employees part of the decision-making process makes everyone feel more comfortable when they are back in the office.

Here are some other pieces of advice Kowalik offered:

  • As an employee, speak up and ask questions.
  • As an employer, listen to your employees.
  • Respect the viewpoints of coworkers, bosses and customers, even if you disagree with them.
  • Consider participating in your employer’s health and wellness program if they offer one. Kowalik said this pandemic highlighted the need to be in good health.
  • Be prepared to continue using some of the lessons you learned while working from home when you return to your workplace. For example, Burns and McDonnell will keep using video chats instead of some business trips in the future.