Since the pandemic, most businesses have switched their workforce into remote work setups to protect their employees from contracting the virus. But after several months of being locked down, some companies are starting to plan their reopening and move forward as the coronavirus cases are getting lower. While it might be easy to call up your employees and ask them to come back into their respective offices, there are a few things you’ll need to consider to ensure your business’s reopening is in sync with the world’s new normal.
Despite the decreasing number of COVID-19 cases, it’s still crucial for every employer to provide a safe working environment for their staff. To help you come up with a safe and effective return-to-office strategy for your employees, here are five things you’ll need to consider first before bringing them back into their offices:
1. Individual Health Screening
Before calling your employees to get back to work, you need to consider their health first. Even if they’ve been working at home for several months, it won’t guarantee that your staffs are safe or free from the virus. Thus, you need to ensure that every team member is COVID-free and is in a healthy state to travel and attend to their jobs. To do this, you can organize an individual health screening for your staff to see if they’re fit and healthy to get back to work.
Some of the health screening procedures you’ll need to conduct may include:
- Contact tracking
- Required isolation or containment (if they’ve been traveling for the past few weeks)
- Medical checkup with a medical certificate provided by a healthcare professional
- Perform a survey about their vaccination status
Conducting these health screening procedures will help you figure out your employees’ current health status and help you decide if they’re fit to return to their offices or not.
2. Workplace Safety
The next thing you need to oversee is your staff’s workplace. Suppose you’ve put all your employees in a remote work setup. This means your office has been empty for several months without regular cleaning or maintenance. And so, before you open your office doors to your employees, make sure their workplace is safe and modified in accordance with the new normal.
Here are a few things you can do to provide a safe workspace:
- Start by hiring a professional cleaning service to clean up and disinfect the entire office from top to bottom.
- Disinfect the chairs, tables, computers, and even the doors and windows.
- Move the workstations by putting at least a 1-meter distance from each desk to increase separation distance. You can also use a transparent glass or screen between tables to act as a barrier for every employee.
- Put an ‘X’ on every other chair in the meeting hall or company cafeteria to remind employees about the social distancing.
- Provide a hand sanitizer on every entrance and office table.
- Set up a temperature check kiosk on the entrance to easily monitor your employees and customers.
- Put up signage on the elevator to limit the number of passengers and promote physical distancing.
Providing a safe workplace won’t only keep your staff safe from the virus, but this will also assure them and keep them motivated to return to their offices.
3. Employee Benefits
Even before the pandemic, you’ve probably already had some employee benefits prepared for your staff. But with the ongoing pandemic, you can expect that some of them would ask for some changes regarding their healthcare benefits, especially if you’re planning to bring them back to the offices. Thus, before reopening, it might be a good idea to review your current employee benefits and see if you need to make some modifications.
For instance, you can add telehealth services or provide mental health counseling sessions for your employees who’ve experienced a mental health decline during the pandemic or the remote work setup. You may also consider providing paid leaves for employees who’ve contracted the virus while working for your company. The better the employee benefits, the higher your employee satisfaction will be during the reopening of your office.
4. Policy Changes
With the new normal, it’s also crucial that you establish new company policies to preserve your employees’ health and safety amid the pandemic. Some policy examples you’ll need to consider are:
- Obligatory wearing of face masks and shields when inside the company premises
- Practicing a one-way traffic pattern for the entire workplace
- Prohibiting handshake greetings and maintaining social distancing
- Limiting business travels and only requiring one when highly necessary
- Limiting the number of clients in the receiving area
- Reducing in-person meeting sessions unless highly necessary
- Implementing lunch breaks and rest breaks in alternate schedules to prevent overcrowding in the cafeteria and encourage physical distancing
Remember that your company policies shouldn’t be about business alone but should also be about your employees’ health and safety.
5. Modified Employee Schedules
Before announcing your company’s reopening, you need to have a plan on when you’ll be calling them back to the office. Asking all the employees to get back to work on the same day and time could be risky and unsafe for their health.
If possible, modify your employees’ schedules so they can work on alternate shifts. Doing this will make it easier for you to regulate the number of employees in your office and ensure that your new company’s safety guidelines are strictly observed.
Overall, the decision to bring back your employees in your company office solely depends on the type of business you have and the roles of your workers. With these pointers, it’ll be easier for you and your employees to slowly transition back to your office jobs and still secure the health and safety of every team member.