9 Ways to Ensure Your Employees Have a Safe Reopening During COVID-19
As countries and cities begin to look at easing lockdown restrictions, this checklist for reopening businesses can help you jumpstart your return.
You and your employees have been quarantined in your homes for the past few months, and now authorities are looking to lift restrictions and open up. You may be thinking, “We’ll be back soon, and I can get out of this house!” The problem is, if you just pick up and go, and don’t prepare for having people back in the workplace, you may run into issues that could have been easily avoided.
Now is the time to prepare.
Keep in mind that your team may be nervous about returning to the workplace. If you prepare properly, you can alleviate many concerns for your employees, enabling them to focus on the work, not on the global health crisis.
You and your employees should expect that returning to the workplace will not be the same as it was prior to COVID-19. The new normal is, and will be different for the foreseeable future.
9 Things To Do For Your Team
Create a “Return to the Office” task force, or point person. Depending on the size of your business, consider appointing someone, or an entire team, to lead the efforts of assessing and optimizing your establishment for return. They will also help communicate changes and updates to employees.
Create a “Return to the Workplace” schedule. Your goal is to manage how many people are arriving and working in your establishment throughout the day and week.
Consider developing a profile that assesses each employee based on their need to physically be there, potential COVID-19 exposure, commute methods (do they take public transportation?), and other considerations (such as childcare, for example).
Use the profile to build out your priority list for those who are first to return.
Establish an ongoing Work From Home (WFH) policy. This will help to ensure the workplace isn’t overly crowded. It will also enable those employees who are concerned about returning to “take it slow,” will help you establish safe, socially distanced working arrangements, and will support your employees with children at home due to school cancellations.
Review and update your policies. Look at sick leave, holiday leave, travel policies, etc., and determine if you should make any changes or updates based on COVID-19. Over communicate to your staff about returning to the workplace. Make sure they understand what precautions you have taken, and assure them they can return safely.
Encourage appropriate safety practices in your office. Practices include frequent hand washing, use of hand sanitizers, eliminating high-touch areas, and wiping down common spaces.
Tell employees to stay home if they, or someone they live with, feels sick or exhibits any known COVID-19 symptoms. This may seem obvious, but it needs to be explained to your employees.
Encourage your employees to “ease in”, as people may be stressed and tired when they return to the workplace. Expect that your employees will need time to acclimate. Working at home is very different than working in an establishment. Encourage frequent breaks, and expect that people will need to adjust.
Check with local health officials about health screening recommendations. You may want to consider a daily health screening procedure, such as temperature checks, but make sure you reach out to your legal representative for guidance before you deploy any new procedure.
Establish an open line of communication with your employees. Create a cadenced stream of communication with your employees and ensure they understand the channels available to them should they have questions, comments, or concerns.
This checklist is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but it can help provide guidance as you look to reopen. Be sure to check out the other checklists in this series: Workplace, Technology, and Your Customers.
Everyone’s situation is unique, but evaluating your plan with these components in mind can help you get organized and anticipate obstacles.
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