As businesses find themselves opening back up after a few months of lockdown, prioritizing everyone’s safety is of course a given. There’s no going back to the normal we had before, and for that reason, certain guidelines and precautions have to be applied. Going back to on-site work will be tricky, and if you’re ill-prepared, you might be risking your employees’ health and safety as well as your own. Here’s how you can prepare for the return to work:
First and foremost, you need to form a plan. Once you have the go-ahead for on-site work, take the time to strategize how you will approach this. Ask your employees how they feel about going back to the office, make sure you know and you can follow guidelines provided by the jurisdiction you are in, and think about how you will integrate social distancing and other safety measures.
The best way to go about it is to impose partial on-site work. A number of employees will go back to the office, while the rest will remain working remotely. You can also try implementing an alternate schedule where different departments or groups take turns to return to the office. A resolute plan will help make your return to the office smoother and easier.
Since physical distancing is a must, you’re going to need to redesign the office to make it safe for your employees. Increase the spaces between the office desks and seating arrangements, as well as the tables and chairs in the conference rooms, reception areas, pantries, and more. You can also remove areas where people usually lounge together so you can maintain distance from one another. Before you open the office, you need to make sure that it’s designed carefully so as to make sure physical distancing is implemented.
On-site work won’t be at a 100% capacity for a long period of time, so you need to adjust for the benefit of both employees at the office and at home. Incorporate virtual collaboration in your day-to-day work. A large conference call service that can handle a high volume of participants should fit just right for businesses with on-site and remote employees. It would also be advantageous if they boast great conferencing features that will help you facilitate various kinds of meetings and sessions with your team. With virtual collaboration, you’ll be able to function seamlessly and increase productivity even if you don’t have all your employees in one vicinity.
It’s also important to set up new rules for the office so you can enforce extra safety measures. Make rules about keeping distance while walking or going about different rooms in the office, sanitizing every time people come back from outside, daily temperature checks, the number of people in one room, guidelines for meetings, and more.
As you open your office back up, sanitizing stations should be placed in different areas of the place. This will provide your employees a way to sanitize whenever they enter a room, leave a room, or after they interact with others in close proximity. Be sure to include:
Signages are a good way to enforce safety measures visually and remind everyone to take these measures seriously. Put up informative signages about hand washing or sanitizing their desks, signages with the new office rules, or even signages with encouraging tenets just to boost morale. These things can go a long way.
Above all, you must have empathy and understanding. These are strange and trying times. What your people need are support and understanding. Make sure to ask them how they’re doing, if they’re adjusting fine, if they need anything else, or if they’ve encountered some sort of conflict in their work schedule. Being kind and compassionate will create a safe and welcoming environment for your employees to return to.