Countries all over the globe are beginning to open their doors and economies after months of lockdown initiatives. People who were working from home during the outbreak will soon return to the office.
Some businesses will maintain remote operations, while others will send their entire workforce back to the office. These two scenarios are at both ends of the spectrum, but the majority of companies will be looking at flexible solutions to continue operating their businesses.
Decision-makers should now develop a plan to reintegrate their staff back to the office with their safety in mind.
Check out these guidelines for a safe return-to-work transition.
1. Implement the Hybrid Work Model
This model consists of both in-office and remote staff and gives employees the flexibility to choose where, how, and when they will do their work. It includes office spaces where they can come and go as they please based on project needs or preferences.
Embracing this model will keep everyone happy and productive amidst the transition phase – and perhaps this could be the future of work. Also, fewer people at the office will make it easier for you to manage social distancing guidelines.
2. Start Small with Phased Return
If you plan to reintegrate your whole staff back to the office, the safest way to do it is through a phased approach. Have a small percentage of your workforce go back to work over time.
Phased return is one way to mitigate sudden congestion in the office and puts everyone at a lower risk of contracting the virus. Remember to even out the numbers in every department to avoid overcrowding. You can choose to add more staff every few weeks or months. This scenario is only ideal if all goes well, and no infection occurs within the office.
Proper safety and sanitation guidelines should be in place before you implement this. Care Touch offers a wide range of COVID-19 supplies, which can help you get rid of germs and viruses in the office.
3. Utilize Rotational Shiftwork
Large numbers of staff returning to a shared workspace poses a high risk for the spreading and contracting of COVID-19. Managing the influx of in-office staff will be crucial to protecting their health.
The rotation of the work schedule is one way of maintaining a safe workplace environment. Establish a structure such that a rotating group of employees work from the office every few days or weeks.
Plan the schedule wisely to ensure coverage across roles and to encourage proper social distancing. Should you decide to implement a rotational shift set-up, equip your office with the right sanitation supplies and thermometers that could help detect a fever symptom among your employees at the onset.
4. Organize a Seating Plan
Devise a seating arrangement to help employees in the same office space work safely and maintain social distancing.
As you begin to phase in more in-office staff, continue to plan seating scenarios to accommodate higher employee density and safer organizational return planning strategies. If you have hundreds or thousands of employees, there are useful algorithms you can use to streamline your plan.
Moreover, track who sits where for transparency and better strategies in the case of an employee showing symptoms.
5. Set Up a Flexible Business Infrastructure
It will take months for your business to return to what it was before the COVID-19 outbreak, and there will likely be deficiencies in your business infrastructure and support that employees need to do their duties.
Platforms that enable effective employee communication and collaboration are essential to sustain your return-to-work efforts. You should review your operations and identify areas of improvement for successful reintegration.
6. Optimize Office Setup
Reconfigure your office according to the regulations set by the governing agencies. Consider using other spaces as dedicated working areas to increase your capacity. You can put up dividers between desks, place foot markers to avoid foot traffic congestion, increase the distance between seats, etc. You may even provide sanitizing wipes on desks to encourage returning employees to practice proper sanitation of hands.
Temperature checks upon entry and limiting the number of people in a closed room are also steps you can take to improve the conditions in your office. Strict implementation of a safe environment is vital to lessen the spread of the virus.
7. Sustain a Sanitary Workplace
Maintaining a regular cleaning schedule and practicing proper hygiene procedures are necessary for a safer work environment. Encourage your staff to follow strict hygiene guidelines such as routinely washing hands and wearing of masks.
Prepare sanitizers near doors, in the pantry, in the toilet, and areas where frequent physical contact takes place. They should be educated on the symptoms of the widespread virus and establish a proper line of communication when the onset of these symptoms occurs.
8. Boost Workplace Morale
Your employees may feel disconnected due to the quarantine measures during this transitional phase. Morale is crucial to keep productivity high. You can conduct team-building activities, happy hours, company events, etc.
These can also be done virtually for teams who are remote and out of the office. You can encourage them to create private rooms using tools like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Slack, for casual workplace banter to better connect.
9. Be Open to Employee Feedback
Ask your employees about what they think is working and what needs to be improved. They are the ones who have spent months working remotely or working on flexible terms. You need to adjust to all the changes from the feedback you gather from them and ensure you are providing them the necessary flexibility, tools, and regulations for a smoother business operation.
10. Devise a Contingency Plan
Having a plan is a good thing, but you must prepare for when things get out of hand. In the case of an outbreak in the office, you will need to act swiftly and put a stop to in-office operations. You should prepare to send your employees home and have them work remotely.
Your employees are the driving force behind your business, so their safety amid this pandemic should be your utmost priority. Integrate these guidelines when planning your return-to-work strategies to help you transition smoothly to a new normal. Things may not be as they used to, and it will be for a while. Planning is essential as we adjust to the uncertainty surrounding this pandemic.
Equip your office with the necessary sanitizing supply and COVID-19 essentials for your employees’ safety and health.
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