Across the country, businesses are starting to re-open to a new normal in light of COVID-19. In workplaces, this means strict protocols around keeping co-workers spaced six feet apart, staggering schedules, and more. And, while some businesses are ready to welcome back employees into the office, there are still many employees who may not share that same enthusiasm. As your PEO, we put together some practical tips to help your returning employees feel more comfortable with the idea of returning to work.
The fact of the matter is, for a lot of service businesses, remote working will continue to be normal. Without a vaccine on the horizon until 2021, a lot of companies will still adopt social distancing protocols with only limited capacities returning to the office. As a result, many employees will continue to socially distance and work remotely.
Depending on your office, many employers may need to consider changing their office layout. Not all employees have access to private offices, which can help limit the spread of COVID. Instead, a lot of offices utilize open space formats with cubicles to maximize space. However, those cubicles and open stations will need to be spaced out so employees can maintain six-feet (at least) of separation.
As most offices will only be able to return to limited capacity, staggering employee in-office workdays may become necessary. Staggering will also be likely if you are unable to space out work areas to maintain separation effectively. As a result, you will want to discuss with your team members an effective in-office schedule of who needs to be in the office on what days – plus you will need to keep in mind spacing arrangements.
Most offices have common areas such as kitchens or conference rooms. You will want to keep these areas clean after every use. With conference rooms, in particular, you will want to space out seating to ensure adequate spacing. This may very well mean having fewer people physically in the conference room itself, and remotely connecting others into your meeting.
Most offices have a cleaning service or a building management group. If that is the case, find out their safety protocols and any extra measures they are implementing to keep everyone safe. Share with your employees those additional measures. Also, be sure to stock up on cleaning supplies, including wipes and hand sanitizers. Encourage employees to nightly clean their areas using wipes. For common areas, you can set up a schedule where employees can clean those areas nightly, including wiping down keyboards, tables, etc.
Obviously, masks are a delicate subject, and the rules vary by state, and even by city. However, it is clear that masks significantly help reduce the spread of the virus. Some buildings may already have a policy in place that requires everyone to wear a mask. If not, as an employer, you can set your own policy. But, it is warranted to require masks if a client is visiting, and ask them to do the same.
Overall, as an employer, know that this is likely to continue through 2020. As a result, the more you can do to accommodate distancing for your employees, the better. Communicating these policies and plans will help returning employees feel more comfortable about coming to the office. However, if you are finding that working remotely is as productive as being in the office, you could find there is little need to rush your team back.
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