First published at https://www.get5.io/blog/returning-work-after-covid-19-businesses-prepare
Staying productive and competitive during the Coronavirus lockdown has been one of the greatest challenges for your business. Now that many countries are relaxing COVID-19 restrictions, it is time for your business to open its doors.
However, keep in mind that the COVID-19 crisis has changed the workplace forever. To adapt workplaces and protect employees, you will need to stay on top of the latest regulations and take appropriate preventive measures.
Reassess your Business’ Major Risks
Both small and large companies perform a business-risk assessment to identify potential business risks, create disaster recovery strategies, provide stricter employee safety guidelines, and invest in the right insurance plans.
After COVID-19, you should reassess your business risks and establish though safety measures to protect employees and make your company more resilient in the long-run. When assessing business risks and setting new rules, you should consult national and public health agencies.
Supply Employees with Hand Sanitizers and PPE
You should pre-order all products vital to employees’ safety, including sanitizing wipes, soap, bottled water, hand sanitizers, paper goods, and so forth. Encourage employees to wash and disinfect their hands regularly.
All employees should be provided with personal protective equipment. Provide all employees with a surgical mask and gloves, especially if maintaining the required 6 feet distance is not possible. Above all, you should provide strict guidelines on the use, maintenance, and disposal of PPE. By ensuring protocols are in place, you will minimize the spread of the virus.
Reconfigure Office Spaces
Just because you can now reopen your business does not mean that the COVID-19 pandemic is over. As mentioned above, you should still reassess your major business risks and keep track of regulations specifying social distancing practices, hygiene practices, employee gatherings, and so forth. Based on them, you should be able to reorganize your offices.
The protocols dictate that there should be 6 feet between employees. Talk to your employees and help them reorganize their seating arrangements. If keeping the 6-feet distance is not possible, you should install transparent barriers between their desks.
To minimize close contact among employees, you should limit the number of employees in in-person meetings:
- Determine how many people can share the kitchen, conference room, or cafeteria.
- Organize shifts. Large volumes of workers returning to work pose a major risk of spreading COVID-19.
- Use floor markers to direct foot traffic and encourage employees to keep the distance.
The workplace should be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized between shifts, especially door handles, phones, and counters.
Allow Employees to Keep Working Remotely
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, homeworking has soared. Employees needed to adapt to it fast. For some, this was an opportunity to enhance their productivity and manage their time and tasks more effectively.
To enhance employees’ safety and boost their productivity, many large corporations are extending working from home. Facebook and Google’s employees will be able to work from the comfort of their homes for the rest of the year. Twitter’s CEO even claims that their employees can work from their homes forever after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Allowing employees to work from home can benefit your business in multiple ways. Apart from preventing further spread of the pandemic, it will also increase employees’ performance, satisfaction, and retention. To help them stay productive while working from home, you should:
- Allow them to take company-provided equipment
- Provide tips on how to balance private and professional life
- Encourage them to take regular breaks
- Equip them with the software and tools needed to perform more effectively
- Ensure fast and uninterrupted communication among remote workers. Use cloud project management tools, video conferencing tools, social media, and apps to keep them engaged and boost their morale, like Hi5.
Provide Support for Employees Coping with Stress
Fear, stress, and anxiety are normal responses to perceived threats, especially those we are unfamiliar with. Remember that this was a harsh period for most of your employees. After a long period of isolation, they are now expected to return to the workplace. Keep in mind that some may have gone through traumatic events.
As an employer, you need to help your staff adapt to the new work environment. For starters, show empathy. Make it easier for employees to exchange tasks. Provide flexible working arrangements. Communicate with them regularly. Focus on strengthening your company culture and building stronger relationships among workers.
If an employee is worried about the infection, talk to them and show what preventive measures you have taken to help them stay healthy. Provide them with many reliable resources on mental health that will help them reduce stress. You may also want to read up on the mental health benefits of showing appreciation at work.
Over to You
For your business, the COVID-19 pandemic might be a catalyst for innovation your employees are thirsty for. By adopting new technologies, you will facilitate and automate many repetitive tasks. Remote working helps you reduce costs, boosts employee morale, and gives you access to the global talent pool.
By reconfiguring the company culture and offices, you will maximize employees’ productivity. Above all, you will focus more on empathetic leadership and building strong employee relationships.
About the author
Jacob Wilson is a business consultant, and an organizational psychologist, based in Brisbane. Passionate about marketing, social networks, and business in general. In his spare time, he writes a lot about new business strategies and digital marketing for Bizzmark blog.