How to Welcome Your Team Back to WorkDecember 28, 2020 10:51 am
The COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted the way we work in ways that most of us have never experienced before. Whether your business never stopped, took a break and is back at it, is running at limited capacity or is still waiting to return, there’s no doubt that operations feel much different than they did a year ago.
This change and uncertainty can be stressful and unsettling, and you can bet you are not the only one feeling that way. With strong, purposeful leadership you can offset some of this stress for your team, and help the entire office feel secure moving forward knowing that a well thought out plan is in place. Below are tips to consider as you build out your back-to-work roadmap.
Develop and Communicate a Plan
You’ve likely developed plans for other emergency or disruptive situations—a thorough COVID-19 plan should now be part of that package. Using the latest guidance from the CDC, as well as state and local health authorities, create a strategy that follows the directives of health experts and meets the realities and demands of your business.
What this plan looks like, and the steps required to create a safe work environment will vary from business to business, but all should consider social distance, hand washing practices and PPE requirements. You will want to establish protocols to take the guesswork out of employee behavior, like if masks must be worn while employees are at their desks, or if food will be allowed in the break rooms. Staff size, available space, and other factors will inform these decisions, and the responsibility falls to you as a leader to develop and communicate a plan that keeps employees safe.
Implement a Screening and Testing Program
Without a doubt, your return-to-work program needs to include a process for screening the health of employees, and what to do if an employee becomes infected with COVID-19. With screening measures, you can help put employees at ease knowing they are in a safe environment and that their well-being is being taken seriously. Again, what’s appropriate and workable will depend on the specifics of your business.
Your screening and testing solution could be a temperature check upon entrance or it could be a full COVID-19 testing regiment, quarantine, and contact tracing protocol. Follow guidance from the CDC and state authorities and make the best call for your business.
In addition, outline a plan of action for what happens if someone on your staff becomes infected. Do your best to create an environment that encourages employees to be honest and upfront about how they are feeling. The more you can create a transparent plan and process, the more at ease and better prepared everyone will be in the event that an employee becomes ill or there is a COVID-19 outbreak in the office.
Inspect Your Building’s Ventilation System
According to the Environmental Protection Agency and other health authorities, the proper ventilation of outside air within the workplace can help reduce the concentration of airborne contaminants like viruses and lower the chances of group infection in the office. If your space and the weather allows, consider finding ways to work with windows or doors open to create regular airflow throughout the building. If this is not possible, consider limiting the number of people that work in an enclosed space at any given time.
Business capacity mandates vary by state and county, so it’s always wise to stay up to date on the latest guidance from local health agencies in your area.
Search for local mandates here: https://covid19.nj.gov/
Does HVAC Help with Ventilation?
Research shows that the ventilation and filtration provided by HVAC systems, especially those equipped with high-rated filters designed to remove airborne contaminants from the air, can help reduce the risk of airborne transmission. It is advised that you continue running your HVAC system and consider evaluating your system to see if anything can be updated or redesigned to further reduce the risk of infection and transmission in the office.
Set the Tone
Make the return to work effort a collaborative one, and empower your employees to share their ideas on how to best make coming back to the office a safe and enjoyable experience. Create a channel where employees can share concerns without fear of retribution. Again, you are striving for honesty and transparency, and in setting that tone, you should do all you can do to provide that same openness to your employees.
Establish the norm of open communication right off the bat by laying out the whole return to work plan for all employees, explaining the steps you are implementing and why. If you are adjusting workplace schedules or configurations or offering work from home options, make sure the system and rationale for implementing it are adequately explained. In demonstrating the thought and effort you’ve given to developing a best practices plan, you will build trust with your employees. Do your best to remain open-minded and flexible, particularly when it comes to staff members who are high-risk, or who have high-risk family members at home.
Welcome employees back with a COVID-19 Work Safety package. This might include masks, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and other handy items to help with workplace hygiene. Feel free to throw something fun in the box. Morale is a huge part of the equation—you want to demonstrate that you are committed to the health and well-being of your staff.
Adjusting to the new work reality will take time, patience, and understanding. By planning ahead, practicing transparency, and helping your staff remain prepared, you can make the transition and the upcoming workdays more comfortable, and ultimately more productive, for your company.
Categorised in: blog
This post was written by CJ Urgent Care of NJ