As organizations slowly reopen and employees gradually return to the workplace, employers need to establish their reboarding plans. Like everything in life, we can expect to see ups and downs during the phases of reopening as we continue to navigate this new norm. With that being said, taking the time to carefully plan and prepare for the return of employees will help your organization function more effectively and efficiently. To help make the transition of going back into the office as smooth as possible for every party involved, consider these suggestions when creating your plan.
Create a safe and healthy work environment
The safety and well-being of employees and clients is top priority. The first step in creating your back to office outline is to build a safe and healthy workplace. Businesses need to take all the necessary safety precautions recommended by the CDC, EEOC, OSHA, and public health agencies. A recent survey in June stated half of American professionals are reluctant to go back to the office, citing health concerns. Address these fears by clarifying all the safety measures your organization will be taking upon their arrival.
Here are examples you can implement recommended by the CDC:
- Monitor state and local public health communications about COVID-19
- Encourage sick workers to report symptoms, stay home, and follow CDC guidance
- Alter workspaces and mark the office to help maintain 6 feet of distance
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces throughout the day, (e.g., counters, shelving, door handles, printers, keyboards, phones)
- Provide employees with proper PPE: masks, gloves, disposable disinfectant wipes, cleaner, or sprays at no cost of the employee
- Use technology to promote social distancing (e.g., telework and virtual meetings)
- Improve ventilation in the building, in consultation with an HVAC professional, based on local environmental conditions (temperature/humidity) and ongoing community transmission in the area
- Conduct daily in-person or virtual health checks (e.g., symptoms and/or temperature screening) of employees before they enter the workplace
Communicate your actions
Employers need to be transparent and frequently communicate plans and expectations with employees. Especially because so many people are reticent to return to the office. Keep people in the loop with all the steps you are taking that will protect them and any new plans, guidelines, or updates. Whether you’re giving these updates in-person, by email, or over the phone, they will appreciate your efforts of keeping them informed. Building employees’ trust and creating an open environment is more important than ever, as you want your employees to feel comfortable voicing their concerns if they need to self-report they’re sick.
In a time of crisis, being flexible and understanding is important not only to employees but for the business as a whole. If your organization has never had the option to work remote, now is the time to reimagine what working will look like in the future. A flexible schedule doesn’t necessarily mean you go remote full-time but it can include: allowing employees to stay home to care for sick family members, being flexible with work hours, creating a staggered work schedule, or just allowing employees to take a burnout/mental-health day. Being considerate goes a long way towards boosting productivity, retention, and morale.
Offer mental-health support
Many have faced anxieties, fear, and concerns over the past few months about their health, employment status, family, finances, and being isolated. Mental health is finally being talked about and addressed more and more. Organizations are making an effort to spread awareness and reduce stigma related to mental health.
To help support employee’s emotional well-being you can offer and provide private counseling, well-being check-in calls, morale-boosting activities (happy hours, fun virtual games, etc.), mediation sessions, mental-health PTO days, virtual fitness classes, or send out a newsletter with free mental-health resources.
Create a tailored work plan to fit your organization’s specific needs and keep up to date yourself with the evolving guidance from health organizations. Now is the time where leaders should know about the different issues that have been raised and turn them into opportunities to change what the future of work will look like, for the better!
“Crisis moments create opportunity. Problems and crises ignite our greatest creativity and thought leadership as it forces us to focus on things outside the norm.” - Sam Cawthorn, Motivational Speaker and Success Coach
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