With many companies keeping most or even all their staff at home and working remotely for a year or more now, it’s important to have a plan for bringing them back to the workplace as coronavirus restrictions are lifted. If everything has gone to plan so far, there will also most likely be some staff who will continue to work remotely, and it’s just as important to have a plan for continuing to support them.
Have a Plan
No business succeeds that doesn’t plan for success, so have a plan for reopening operations in the workplace. Start by putting together a reopening team consisting of key leaders from every department and ensure they meet regularly to develop the reopening plan and ensure it accounts for the human aspects of returning to the office.
Get Staff Input
In most cases, it’s wise to send staff a survey of some sort to include them in the process as well as to discover what their expectations for reopening are. Exploring what feelings staff have about returning as well as any extenuating circumstances they may have, such as children and their school or childcare needs. Finally, gaining an understanding of staff feelings about the vaccines available and your business’s policy about vaccination will be important.
Health and Safety Guidelines
The depth and extent of the health and safety guidelines your business should implement as staff return to the workplace depends on a wide variety of factors. These can include how many of them will be in the office or workplace at any given time, and how “public-facing” the business is. Some companies use mobile COVID-19 screening apps staff can install on their devices and then fill out according to polices developed as part of the return-to-work planning process.
Have the right coronavirus mitigation equipment installed and waiting for staff use when they finally do return to the office. Hand sanitizer, washing stations, even masks and advisory signage may be needed depending on the local, state, and federal guidelines. Put COVID-19 sanitation rules into place, such as capacity limits for cafeterias and lunchrooms, and ensure staff adheres to them.
Understand Staff Concerns
Some staff members may be more hesitant than others to return to the workplace, especially as news reports report on scattered coronavirus outbreaks. Understand the concerns staff have about returning to a workplace environment and ensure they’re accounted for in any return-to-work plan. Also, realize that some staff may be unable or unwilling to return to the workplace for now, and having a plan that addresses both their needs and the business’s is vital.
Finally, should coronavirus numbers begin climbing again it will be necessary to have a contingency plan for dealing with the matter. Such a backup plan may include a complete return to work-from-home or a blend of some staff working from home while core staff work at the office in a capacity-limited environment, with flexible scheduling to ensure only a few people are in the office at any one time throughout the workday.