Regardless of how long businesses anticipate staying home, it is vital for the well-being of your employees and company to have a plan in place for when you go back to your brick and mortar office. Navigating this pandemic has posed many challenges for businesses and regardless of how difficult these transitions may seem, the onus is on employers to make sure that their staff can return to work safely and efficiently. We have researched various protocols and resources to help you start planning your return to the office if you have not already, continue reading to learn how!
Instead of rushing everyone back all at the same time, we suggest phasing your staff in as waves. For example, consider opening the office first to employees who have a business reason to work in the building, whether that is access to certain equipment or space to be more effective. Secondly, invite back your employees who require additional flexibility, such as parents with young children or caregivers, who do have obligations at home – and make sure they know that their personal life is the highest priority. Third, and finally, ask your higher risk employees to return to the office, or anyone else who might be uncomfortable being around others until a treatment is available.
Make Masks Necessary
Business owners cannot control the regulations within their city or state, but they do dictate the guidelines for their employees to follow. The benefit of masks was originally unclear but after some time, recent studies show that many COVID-19 carriers are asymptomatic, and masks will still fight further spread even if the wearer is not exhibiting symptoms. Furthermore, a study done by the National Academy of Sciences of the USA shows that infection rates in places with mask mandates are much lower than places without such regulations. Requiring masks will help provide your employees with a degree of safety and peace of mind.
Maintain Social Distancing
You cannot utilize your workspace in the same way you did prior to going home. Instead, take the proper measures to optimize safety for your staff when they return to work. Enforce the proper distancing between work areas such as desks and workbenches, and mandate occupancy maximums for shared spaces such as elevators and restrooms. Additionally, implement regular and rigorous cleaning procedures for all your equipment that sees frequent use, and take advantage of modern technology to maintain regular communication with all staff members without having to make physical contact.
Invest in Better Ventilation and Utilize Outdoor Spaces
When weather permits, take your business outdoors. If this is a possibility for your company, invest in things like shade structures and benches that facilitate outdoor work. The virus spreads most frequently through indoor transmission, and nearly all cases have involved improper ventilation or a large amount of face-to-face contact. As such, improved indoor ventilation can dilute the chances of virus transmission within your workplace. Consider keeping your windows open or researching HVAC upgrades, especially before the weather outside starts to cool down.
No matter how turbulent these times may be, it is still possible to transition back to the office successfully and safely. Review all these considerations carefully and make sure to solicit feedback from your staff – never make them do anything that they are uncomfortable with! Prioritizing the health and safety of your employees means that you are putting your business and your staff first, and this will also serve to decrease the chances of another lockdown.