Offices around the world are starting to reopen as governments have initiated the vaccination process. However, companies should accept the fact that workspaces will not be the same, at least for the foreseeable future. It will take a long time for the pandemic to get eradicated completely. Workplace
So, organisations should gear up for a continued battle against the virus even as employees go back to work. The health and safety of people are paramount. If you are considering opening up your offices again, here are some pointers to consider for a safereturn to workplace.
- An Organised Return
Make a team that will be responsible for the process of planning to return to work and executing it. This team should comprise both managers and workers. It should be aware of all the rules and regulations and have necessary consultations with the concerned bodies. After that, it should make risk assessments and formulate a plan that reduces the probability of adverse selection and an outbreak in the workplace. Integrate this plan with the business plan to ensure that the company’s work does not get further disrupted.
- Ensure Social Distancing
Social distancing is crucial to your return to work guidelines. Arrange the office in such a way that social distancing is ensured between employees. You can opt for an open office concept. Apart from this, arrange for different shifts. Fewer employees in the office at any given point in time will make the work environment safer.
Another thing to consider is employees congregating during lunch breaks. You can avoid this by having different batches and slots for the break. This will reduce the congregation of too many employees at a time. Also, determine the maximum number of people that can be inside common areas such as washrooms, meeting rooms, conference halls, etc. Social distancing should be compulsory in all areas of the office.
- Inform and Educate
Before opening your offices, make sure you have informed and educated your teams on the safety procedures and social distancing policy. Have training sessions and virtual meetings with employees to ensure that the health policies are being followed.CDC guidelines for returning to work after COVID-19 states you should provide all your personnel with free masks and sanitisers. Moreover, you should have signs and displays around the office urging employees to wear masks and sanitise. The team in-charge of the return to work guidelines can also educate employees on frequent and proper hand-washing.
- Monitor the Health of Your Employees
You should monitor the health of all your staff. Temperature checks with contactless scanners have to be carried out at the office entrance every day. Encourage people to take sick leaves if they do not feel well. Put a protocol in place in cases of someone developing or showing symptoms in the office.
The protocol should be set up after a consultation with the concerned body. Inform people who have come in contact with employees who have the virus or are suspected of having it. Additionally, inform the relevant authorities to get proper healthcare for the affected individual.
Be more cautious with high-risk employees, including those over 60 and/or with pre-existing health conditions. Do not call in these employees unless you need them.
- Consider the Psychological Impact
The pandemic has not been easy on anyone. Many people have lost their loved ones. Communicate regularly with your teams and educate them about mental health issues that might crop up in the wake of the pandemic. You should offer counselling services for employees.
Ensure that the work environment is positive and focuses on everyone’s wellbeing. Further, you may want to offer group health insurance which will lead to minimising the risks and making employees feel safe. This can go a long way in ensuring good employee mental health and wellbeing.
Should vaccination be a part of the return to work policy? You may be asking yourself this question. Many governments have started their vaccination drives, which are largely accepted as the best weapon against the virus. Asian countries like India recently announced that it would vaccinate all people above the age of 60 free of cost. Moreover, vaccines will be available in private centres for people who are over 45 years old.
You can implement the policy of allowing high-risk employees to get back to work only after they have been vaccinated. Gradually, as vaccines become widely available, you can expand this policy for all employees.
The war against COVID is not entirely over, even though we are seeing fewer cases. New strains that are more dangerous are being discovered every day. The health and safety of your employees should be the top priority, even as everyone is slated to return to work in the coming months. Organise and prepare yourself to open the workplace again. Make sure that you follow all the pointers in this article for asafe return to workplace.