What Employers Need to Do to Return to Work Post-Coronavirus
After spending more than a few months working from home, employees are slowly making their way back into the office. Return to work is still an uncertain process because companies and individuals have to rely on educated guesses and statistical predictions about the pandemic and how it would evolve once everybody was back in the office again.
As more and more companies start cautiously testing the water with the implementation of staggered shifts, reduced teams, widespread testing, and some organizations going as far as creating completely isolated bubbles to protect all of their employees, this has led us to the point where educated guesses have turned into the data-supported decision to have everybody back in the office.
Having all workers return to work isn’t as simple as just sending out a company wide email requiring their presence at the office the very next day. You need to make sure that risk of contagion is completely managed and that you are able to provide every single person at the office, whether employee or visitor, with a safe environment so they can perform their tasks efficiently instead of feeling stressed out.
The best way to go about implementing new safety measures and policies is turning to the experts such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Some of the guidelines issued include:
- You should develop policies for worker protection.
- Cleaning staff should be trained in proper use and disposal of Personal Protection Equipment
- Consider using wipeable covers on electronics such as tablets, touchscreens, keyboards, and remote controls.
- Require everybody at the office to practice social distancing. This includes limiting the occupants in meeting rooms, elevators, offices, break rooms, as well as keeping a distance of at least 6 feet with everyone else.
- Look to increase ventilation throughout the office.
- Forbid the sharing of all equipment such as headsets, keyboards, refrigerators, microwaves, mugs, etc.
- Install barriers (glass, plexiglass, plastic) at secretarial stations and customer service desks.
It is important to train everybody at the office on the new protocols and to put up visual reminders such as marks on the floor to ensure that everybody knows to keep their distance from one another, signs that motivate people to wash their hands and clean their stations. Another useful idea is to instal touchless disinfectant dispensers throughout the office so that it is convenient for everyone to keep their hands clean at all times.
If you are a freelancer, solopreneurs, or you work for a company that is accustomed to working at hot desks, coworking spaces, and having meetings in rented meeting rooms, returning to work requires you to be way more vigilant when it comes to prevention. As the whole concept of these workplaces relies on them being shared multiple times between many individuals and teams, they should have stricter protocols in place to ensure that every member is safe, and to be fair most do.
Meeting and conference rooms are being completely sanitized between uses, coworking spaces have been adapted to social distancing norms and being thoroughly cleaned after each member, and hand sanitizer and wipes are easily available around the office.
When it comes to returning to work post-coronavirus, what is important is to remember that although we are still not out of the woods yet, we now have much more information to work with in order to stay as safe as possible while returning to the places where we did our best work before the pandemic.