As we continue to self-isolate, executives and team leaders across the country are grappling with the challenges posed by COVID-19 and the toll it's taken on themselves and their workers—and have been handling all of this while in quarantine. But for many employees, working from home hasn’t been an option. Deborah Alvord, a senior director analyst for Gartner, told HRMorning that “Many (employers) can’t implement remote work for all of their employees due to the lack of available infrastructure, the physical nature of some … roles or union contracts.”
In some ways, managing on-site employees during a global pandemic is even more complex than overseeing quarantined workers. The safety and health of the employees is more at risk than in isolation, and office morale may be even lower. Here are a few tips to help your employees stay physically and mentally healthy while working on-site.
Enforce Social Distancing
The CDC and other health authorities have continually recommended staying six feet apart when in public spaces. In the workplace, companies should strictly enforce a social distancing policy, and may want to mandate face coverings while on the premises at all times. Social distancing can be easy to accidentally break, especially in an office where you’re regularly interacting with coworkers. Remember to post signage in meeting rooms, lounges and other gathering places in the office to remind employees to maintain a safe distance.
Implement a No-Visitor Policy
If your workforce is currently a combination of on-site and remote employees, be sure to make clear designations between the two. You can mitigate the risk of infection by only authorizing on-site employees in the office, and barring remote employees from coming in even to grab supplies or log a few hours in. Be sure to minimize interaction with visitors like delivery drivers or maintenance workers as well.
Redesign the Workspace
Offices are often designed to encourage employee interaction and camaraderie, and usually include collaborative spaces where workers can tackle projects together. Unfortunately, these aren’t ideal in the current climate. If necessary, label conference rooms and other communal areas off limits, and consider creating safe walkways and routes throughout the office so that workers can move around without intruding on each other’s space. If your office has an open floor plan, consider erecting cubicles or other partitions between employee workstations.
Understand Productivity Won’t Be as High
As managers, it’s part of the job to ensure our employees are performing at their best and remaining productive. But even with all of these new policies and precautions, it can’t change the fact that these workers are operating in the midst of a global crisis, one that’s adding untold amounts of stress and anxiety for all of us. It’s natural to see a decrease in productivity. It’s important to meet this with empathy and understanding, demonstrating to your employees their physical and mental health takes priority over their work.