As more states either re-open entirely or unveil multi-step plans to return to normalcy in the coming months, some businesses will have the opportunity to phase out remote operations and return to on-site working. But just like every other aspect of our lives when quarantine ends, the office is going to be a different place than it was before COVID-19.
With the safety and well-being of their employees still as their number one priority, human resources departments will need to implement new policies and adjust long-standing ones in order to protect their staff. While every office is different, here are a few common precautions that many companies will need to take in a post-quarantine workplace.
Nearly every municipality that has already re-opened, or plans to, has advised its constituents to continue to practice social distancing. Offices that are working on-site should consider enforcing this same mandate wherever possible. For some, this could be to continue using video conferencing tools like Zoom or Skype in the office, instead of meeting in person. If that option isn’t feasible for your workplace, consider putting a cap on the number of employees that can convene in conference rooms and other meeting areas. Some companies may even want to explore the idea of “office shifts,” where only certain employees or departments are allowed to come into the office at certain times.
Employee Health Monitoring
Earlier in March, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that employers would be allowed to conduct temperature checks to mitigate the risk of infection in the office. If your office decides this is necessary, be sure to communicate to employees exactly how these tests are administered. While some may choose to conduct the test directly, others may enlist a third-party organization, and others still could simply ask employees to test themselves and self-report.
Regardless of whether your company implements temperature checks, it’s important to demonstrate to the staff that you’re prioritizing the office’s health. Some businesses are requiring their employees to acknowledge and agree to abide by the organization’s COVID-19 safety policies and do their best to take necessary precautions when outside of the office.
Remote Work Policy
When quarantine began, countless businesses that didn’t allow for remote work rushed to throw together a teleworking policy. As employees slowly begin to return to work, now is the time to update an ad-hoc policy into a more robust protocol.
For starters, just because your state or county has re-opened, doesn’t mean your employees will want to return to the office. Many will opt to remain quarantined until they personally feel it’s safe to go back to work. If you’re going to require certain employees to come into the office, be sure to communicate the rationale and reasoning behind it.
Above all, remember that the transition back to our regular lifestyles won’t be easy. Be kind and patient with your employees, and remember that adjusting to the “new normal” is going to present challenges for all of us.