COVID-19: The Return to the Workplace

  • May 18, 2020
Understanding when and how to reopen businesses may be the most challenging task of the pandemic. We prepared a list of things to consider for the process.

COVID-19 will have a long lasting impact on the way we work and how our workspaces operate. With no vaccine in sight, various aspects of modern workplaces must change if employees are to safely return to their stations.

The return

  • Introduce a flexible working plan and timeframe to gradually bring back employees to the office. Consider which positions warrant a physical presence and which employees can continue their work from home.
  • Take employees who live with children, elder relatives, pregnant women or high-risk people into special consideration.
  • Be mindful of your employees' concerns: people are hypersensitive about potential health risks and liabilities at work.
  • Prepare emergency plans for a second wave or another temporary closure.
  • Consider establishing a task force of various departments to cover all aspects of the return: strategy, communication, health and safety, facilities, IT

Communication

  • Establish a clear pandemic policy and guidelines with information about the rules and measures taken to protect employees and uphold business etiquette.
  • Open line of communication and a platform to answer employees' questions and concerns
  • Provide up-to-date and credible information about the pandemic, contingency and protection.
  • Develop an emergency plan and procedures to isolate people who have signs and/or symptoms of COVID-19 immediately. Train co-workers to implement these procedures.

Health and Safety Tips

  • Provide clear, useful information and appropriate training.
  • Be mindful of the employees' health, safety and financial security concerns.
  • Promote frequent and thorough hand washing
  • Have masks, face covers, hand sanitizers, wipes and disposable towels at the ready for customers and employees.
  • Minimize face-to-face meetings. If you must meet in person, limit the number of participants to the most essential stakeholders.
  • Avoid using the elevators if possible.
  • Disinfect rooms and frequently used objects.
  • Keep strict distancing rules, especially in common areas: lobby, canteen, break room.
  • Discourage employees from sharing or using other worker's tools and equipment if possible.
  • Discourage employees from handshaking and other forms of physical contact.
  • Remind employees to stay home if they are not feeling well.

Employees have a responsibility to limit their social exposure according to state and health authority guidelines when they’re not at work. Our goal is to keep the rate of transmission as low as possible.

Facilities

  • Limit the number of employees allowed in the office
  • Keep entry points clear to avoid congestion
  • Do a deep cleaning and disinfecting before opening, and regularly after.
  • Consider adding a plastic shield or sneeze guard at reception and joint desks.
  • Establish hand sanitizer stations in common areas.
  • Keep a clean desk policy: employees should not leave any objects or personal belongings on their desks.
  • Mark floors with tape to indicate safe distancing
  • Mark high traffic areas

Successfully re-establishing businesses demands a joint effort from the government, health-care, business leaders and employees. We must working together effectively to implement a phased return to employment.

MEMBER INSIGHT

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Randstad's Practical Guide to a Safe Restart

Randstad's Best Practice Health and Safety Protocols

Szecskay Attorneys at Law: Quick guide on how to restart office work in light of the threat of the coronavirus

Dow: Return to Workplace Playbook

TMF Group COVID-19 Updates: Getting you back to business as usual