In this blog, we provide some suggestions on how to ensure the safety and wellbeing of employees once offices re-open.
Governments and authorities around the world are taking measures to lift the restrictions as the impact of COVID-19 pandemic is slowly decreasing and/or becoming more manageable. Some employees have already started going back to the office taking careful measures while thousands of others are planning to return to work in the office in the upcoming days.
Many organizations are still unsure whether it is a good move to go back to office as the long-term uncertainty of COVID-19 hangs in the air. Whether or not you decide to return to the office, it’s appropriate for you to be thinking about how you can safely operate your business and office locations when employees return to the office.
Below we provide some of the measures that you can take to prepare to re-open offices.
Encourage Work from Home
Your employees might have been working from home over the last few months, and if you can ask them to continue to do so, don’t hesitate.
There might be staff who don’t require to come to the office like IT staff or customer service, they could continue working through their laptops and phones from home. Only bring back the staff that is important and necessary.
You could also take an approach where you alternately call staff to the office. Segment the staff in a couple of groups, and alternately bring them to the office.
Set up New Office Rules
As the office rituals like handshaking, attending clients events, has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is necessary to bring in new office rules.
You can start with mandatory temperature checks for every employee before they enter the office, along with sanitizing themselves before doing anything else. You must also increase the distance between workspaces and encourage staff to maintain social distance. Encourage hygiene procedures by encouraging regular hand wash or by providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Also important is the sanitation of devices and hardware. Cleaning up the laptops and other hardware on a daily basis will reduce the spread of the virus.
Avoid Public Transportation During Your Commute
Encourage your employees to avoid public transportation to commute to the office, if they can. Large crowds during the commute could potentially result in the further spread of COVID-19 so avoid it at all costs.
You can instead ask your employees to take alternate commutes such as walking or cycling to work. This will not only avoid crowds but also help in the fitness of the employees. If it’s not possible for your employees to take any of these options, work from home is the go-to option.
Keep Meetings Online
As you are already doing team and client meetings online, continue promoting meetings online for the time being. It might be exhausting to conduct some meetings online, especially that includes a large number of people. You can break the meetings into multiple sessions so that your employees aren’t exhausted.
Also, be easy on your employees. Encourage them to take regular breaks every 25-30 minutes looking at the screen for a longer period doesn’t strain their eyes.
Be Careful with the Food Hygiene
First of all, make sure your cafeteria or pantry area is regularly sanitized. Ask your employees to bring their own personal coffee cups, plates and cutlery. If not, provide them with their personal ones. Ensure your employees clean them before and after the use.
Encourage your employees to eat foods that boost their immune system and ask them to stay hydrated throughout the day.
Invest in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Employee Safety
Wearing PPE has been the new normal in the COVID-19 era and it is likely to stay for a foreseeable future. If you haven’t considered using personal protective equipment in your office environment, this is the right time to do so.
PPE includes face masks, hand sanitizer gel, disinfecting wipes, surgical gloves and other equipment such as dispenser stands and sanitizer holders. You need to identify what is appropriate for your business and stock the proper PPE that ensures the safety and wellbeing of your employees.
Along with the PPEs, you also need a guideline on how to use them properly. Check this instruction to know more.
Meanwhile, we have launched our own line of premium PPEs to help our clients combat COVID-19 and help them prepare for the return to the office. After conducting significant research and planning with our manufacturing partners and suppliers, we have introduced these products with necessary regulatory and safety guidelines while guaranteeing the best quality.
Be Kind and Compassionate to Your Employees
Since everyone is suffering during the pandemic, it is necessary to be kind to your employees. All your employees may not be able to return to the office, and those who return might be feeling low or demotivated.
Although business is business and you need to get back and going after such a devastating time, it is imperative for you to prioritize the physical and mental state of your employees. You don’t want to be remembered as the unempathetic boss during a global health crisis, so give a piece of your heart to your employees and try to understand their motivation.
Returning to the office after the lockdown is definitely a big step to take and it won’t be easy for many organizations. This global health crisis will indeed make the situation different than the pre-pandemic days.
It’s still uncertain how long the impact of COVID-19 will last. However, to get things slowly back to normal, we can take these measures to prepare for back to the office, meanwhile keeping yourself, your office, and your employees safe.