Returning employees to the workspace after a pandemic requires employers to assess the safety of the environment. Is your office space sealed well? Can your employees socially distance themselves while at work? How secure is the ventilation system of the building?
Questions of this type will keep cropping up and requiring your attention as you prepare to recall your employees back to their desks. You must find the answers because no one wants to lose a good employee to a preventable disease. In addition to securing the physical space, you must also ensure that you provide your staff with access to personal safety equipment. Depending on the amount of interaction your business requires, this can range from masks to PPE.
Employees are the backbone of every business. Dedicated and well-trained employees make the difference between being a sustainable business and being a thriving business.
Clean and Sanitize the Office
This is step one of preparing the space. Numerous sanitation companies now offer the service. Pick the one with the best testimonials and have them sanitize the office from the main areas and the meeting rooms to the ventilation system.
Once this is done, you can instruct your janitorial staff to clean the entire office. Make sure that they have PPE and a thorough understanding of safe practices before they begin to clean. If you do not have a large janitorial staff, you might want to hire a professional cleaning service for this task. This is to be preferred if it has been a while since the office has been used. A professional service has more experience in recognizing dampness and mold and will have the tools to handle these specialized cleaning tasks.
Place Proper Signage
Place clear signage at all relevant areas of the office. This signage must highlight best practices such as encouraging hand washing, keeping distance while passing in corridors, and regular usage of hand sanitizer.
Instruct cleaning staff to sanitize regularly used areas such as the lobby and cafeteria/break room. Provide them with the necessary material to note the times at which this cleaning occurred. This will allow you to make sure that the common spaces are being kept clean and reduce the chances of exposure in these heavily used areas.
Proper signage also helps if your business brings in customers. Some customers do not follow proper SOPs in public. Having the signs displayed will allow your employees to cite company policy and ensure that they are protected if someone tries to conduct business without proper mask-wearing.
Communicate the Measures You’re Taking to Employees
As you prepare to return employees to the office, there will be some fears from them. Most people would want to avoid getting ill, and many people have contact with high-risk individuals they will want to keep safe.
Communicating the measures you are putting into place and actively listening to their worries will ensure a smooth transition. The companies that will come out of this crisis in good standing are the ones that value the humanity of the people they employ. Thus, you must be ready to find creative solutions for problems.
Some companies are encouraging employees to return on a staggered basis. Others require all the employees to return but offer to cover the cost of testing. A few companies are even allowing teams of workers to choose the days they want to be in the office and the days they want to telecommute.
The primary consideration in choosing a method that works for you is to ensure that productivity does not suffer. Your customers depend on you to deliver a quality product/service. Whichever route you choose must ensure that the quality of the product/service remains consistent.
The main thing is to be flexible. The new normal applies everywhere. It is unlikely that the world will return to the exact way it used to be before this pandemic came and changed so many ways we approach our daily life.
Flexibility will allow you to meet new challenges with equanimity and a solution-focused mindset. For example, even if employees are in the office, in-person meetings are ill-advised. You have to conduct all meetings remotely or require management staff to stay in their office and dial into the meeting room.
Offer in-office counseling sessions to your employees and take advantage of them for yourself. Everyone needs re-direction and assistance to understand how to be their best self in this new world. Perhaps the new ways will be better ways.