For the better part of 2020, COVID-19 has wreaked havoc across the world causing an enormous financial strain on businesses and whole country economies. The effects of the pandemic are being felt on all facets of life from daily routines such as going to the market or shopping, going to church or school, and going to work.
After months of lockdown in a bid to control the spread of the virus, many countries are beginning to open their economies, albeit gradually. Organizations on the other hand are preparing to return to their physical workplaces as they begin adapting to the new normal post COVID. After months of remote work, both employees and employers alike are eager to go back to the office. However, returning to work after the pandemic is not an easy decision. The reopening of the workplace will come with risks.
Return to work after the pandemic will be different and even scary for some, which is expected given the uncertainty of this pandemic. There is a myriad of concerns that employers and employees alike have on returning to work, by quelling these concerns, the workplace can go back to some sort of normalcy.
Here are five steps that every organization needs to take into consideration as they prepare to go back to work.
- Health Safety. To be able to work well and have peace of mind, employees need to know they are in a safe environment. This can be done by having increased standards of daily cleanliness; disinfecting workstations severally and even cleaning disinfecting common areas. A change in the layout of the workplace or adjusted work schedules will go a long way to reduce the number of people in buildings at any given time. Strict rules on the use of personal protective equipment, such as face masks and gloves, and checking employees and visitors for fever before entering the workplace need to be imposed for everybody’s benefit.
- Hygiene. Cleaning the workplace regularly will not be enough, everyone must be encouraged to keep it safe and clean. When everyone does their part, the whole office and workplace will feel more at ease. Ensure to put up posters reminding people of basic hygiene practices that can protect against Covid-19. Place hand sanitizer around the office and disinfectant in common areas for quick disinfecting of surfaces such as doorknobs, working stations, and some common areas.
- Update Policies and Procedures. The Coronavirus pandemic has forever changed the way every industry does business. As an employer, you need to look into your current policies and procedures and update them to fit current best practices. For instance, sick leave for Coronavirus needs to be included in HR policies. Standard procedures on how to handle anyone infected with the virus of those caring for infected persons also need to be documented.
- Mental Health. Self-isolation, quarantine, and the anxiety caused by the pandemic may have affected your employees’ mental health. Human Resource teams need to be aware of these potential effects and have resources ready to help.
- Social Interaction. Encouraging socializing among employees, after so much time apart, social interaction with colleagues will provide a refreshing feel of some semblance of normalcy at the workplace.
With the end of the pandemic nowhere in sight, we must all try to adopt a new normal where we live with COVID-19. Businesses must embrace the new normal and adapt it to be able to survive and even thrive post-pandemic.
Article by Juliet Hinga