Since the coronavirus pandemic hit in early 2020, normal business operations have been disrupted. Companies have either temporarily shut down or shifted to remote work. But as the risk has decreased in some areas, companies are looking at reopening and shifting back to in-office work. However, no matter where your company is located, the risk of the coronavirus hasn’t entirely gone away. So how can businesses bring employees back safely after COVID-19?
Before your business reopens, it’s essential that you have a plan. How many employees can safely be working at the same time? How will you ensure social distancing between employees and customers? How will you keep commonly touched surfaces clean throughout the workday? Because every business is different, what works for one company may not work well for another.
Some companies may be able to have all employees return to work at the same time. Others may need to stagger shifts. Yet other companies may bring back more essential staff while the rest continue to work remotely.
Communicate With Your Employees
Whether your employees have been working in the office, working remotely, or furloughed during the pandemic, communication with them is essential to reopening. Employees may be nervous about returning to the office because of the residual risk of infection. You’ll need to clearly communicate the plan to them every step of the way. If there are new policies in place that employees must abide by, they’ll need to know ahead of time. Effectively and clearly communicating expectations to your employees can help the reopening process proceed smoothly.
The coronavirus pandemic has changed a lot about how people interact and how businesses run. Reopening doesn’t mean a return to normal, as much as everyone would like that to happen. No matter how well you’ve planned for reopening, there may be unexpected challenges that you’ll have to deal with.
You may need to change your reopening plan partway through the process in order to accommodate unforeseen complications. You may also find that some furloughed employees have taken other work during the pandemic and that you now have open positions that need to be filled.
Protect Your Employees
Your employees are essential to the running of your company. Without them, the company won’t be able to open. Therefore, it’s vital that your company takes the steps necessary to protect your employees’ health. Employees will be more productive when they feel valued by the company they work for.
Review Sick Leave Policies
Even during the best of times, it’s better for employees who are sick to take time off so they don’t spread illness around the office. No one works productively when they’re sick. It’s better to have one employee home sick instead of an entire office filled with ill employees pushing through feeling under the weather.
During a pandemic, however, it’s even more important to encourage anyone who feels sick to stay home. COVID-19 is incredibly contagious and all it takes to close down an entire office is one employee feeling obligated to come into work while ill. Whatever your normal policy is regarding sick days, it’s a good idea to review the policy now to make sure that it works for during a pandemic.
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