Tips for Employers Managing Return to Work After COVID-19: The Key is Flexibility
1. Make the Workplace Feel Safe Again
Maybe it’s been weeks or even months since your workplace shutdown or your employees were sent home to work. Either way, returning to a workplace environment after COVID-19 health and safety should be your biggest focus.
The first step is ensuring the workplace is safe for employees to return to work in. By having a cleaning service to do a deep clean of the entire office you give your employees peace of mind; and there’s nothing better than coming back to work in a fresh and clean workspace.
Daily cleaning standards should also be increased in the workplace. Disinfecting employee work places daily or nightly and cleaning common areas multiple times throughout the day will make for a safer and cleaner work environment.
2. Lead with Good Hygiene
Employees should be encouraged to keep the workplace healthy and safe.
A good place to start is by asking management to lead by example by practicing physical distancing, sneezing into your elbow, following proper hand washing, using hand sanitizer, etc. When employees see the management team leading these best practices they are more likely to also do so.
Make it easy for employees to follow these practices by ensuring supplies are always on-hand. Where possible have the following readily available:
- Hand sanitizer
- Face makes
- Disinfectant wipes or spray
- Hand soap
- Paper towels
3. Review Policies and Pre-Pandemic Procedures
The coronavirus pandemic has forever changed the way every industry does business. As a result, you may need to look at your current policies and procedures and update them to fit current best practices.
For example, policies such as sick leave – do employees get extra paid time off if they test positive? What about time off if a child or spouse tests positive?
What about policies for meetings? One suggestion might be that employees should only use meetings rooms to half capacity or hold them over video conference, in order to maintain physical distancing,
4. Support the Mental Health of your Employees
Its likely that self-isolation and quarantining may have affected your employees’ mental health in one way or another. Let’s face it, as a society today we are not use to being alone or forced inside.
It’s common for people forced into isolation to have feelings of fear, anger, sadness, irritability, guilt or confusion. The pandemic may also cause or increase depression, anxiety or stress.
Managers should monitor employees for these types of effects and understand it can be difficult to try and get back to a “normal” routine. Spotting employees who are struggling with these types of feelings is key to a successful return to work.
5. Restore Productivity
After working from home it can be difficult to go back to earlier routines, commuting, less flexibility, etc. Some employees may be reluctant to give up working remotely.
To help with the transition try to be flexible with working hours in the beginning. Give employees resources to help them get back into a routine or consider allowing employees to continue to work remotely on a modified basis for example a few days a week.
6. Encourage Social Interaction while Maintaining Physical Distancing
While some employees may have enjoyed the quiet home office experience and working remotely or not working at all, other’s will have missed the day-to-day social interaction with co-workers.
Perhaps a certain time of day could be set aside to allow co-workers to catch up during this transition back-to-work.
Or try to keep open communication and cross-department bonding by setting up special interest groups within the office. Let the Home Chefs share some of their special creations or the Knitters share their latest project.
Most importantly, try to be flexible with employees as they reconnect. Allowing employees to catch up on personal and professional topics will help everyone transition back into work mode as we move through these unprecedented times.
COVID-19 Workplace Training
If you’d like your employees to receive COVID-19 training then you might be interested in our new online training course called Back to Work (COVID-19).