During COVID-19, many businesses are encouraging their workforce to work from home. After months of this, which also included healthcare experts doing everything they can for treating coronavirus patients the right way, with a vaccine finally on the way, many businesses will be moving their workforce back into the office.
Most HR reps will take precaution when bringing workers back into the office, but there’s still a bit of uncertainty about exactly how this will be accomplished. How will workers adjust to the office environment after being at home for so long? Will we maintain digital communications? Most importantly, how will we make sure employees are safe?
With the health of your workforce on the line, a lack of a sufficient plan could lead to dire consequences. Here are 5 tips for moving your workers back into the office.
1. Ensure and communicate employee safety
The safety of your workforce should always come first when bringing them back to work. Employees need to feel like their health isn’t being put at risk by returning to the office. Putting proper safety practices into place shows that your company is concerned about the health of its staff, so communicating the steps you’ve taken to your employees is extremely important.
To make sure your employees know that you’re prioritizing their safety, here are a few ways you can formulate a plan and communicate it with your employees:
- Create and distribute a digital safety guide – Creating and sharing a digital guide with your employees is an effective way to communicate new safety guidelines with them. Give them detailed instructions as to what’s expected from them, such as when to wear a mask, hand washing instructions, etc.
- Provide virtual training prior to their return – Communicate your safety measures before bringing your employees back by hosting virtual safety training sessions. That way, your staff is prepared and the expectations are set early.
- Reinforce the message with digital signage – For some things, having digital signage around your office can help communicate things that may be easily forgotten, such as specific sanitization or office spacing requirements. Placement of these signs with instructions around the office can serve as a quick reminder of these things.
2. If necessary, extend stay-at-home policies
During the pandemic, many businesses have implemented stay-at-home policies out of necessity. During a transition period of moving back into the office, some companies will maintain flexible work-at-home policies for employees that prefer working at home.
Regardless of your decision, maintaining strong digital communications is important in maintaining high levels of productivity.
Maintaining work-at-home privileges for your workers, even if only temporarily, can have its benefits:
- Social distancing – Even if your workplace is set up for social distancing, it may be too soon to have your full workforce return all at once. Allowing those who want to work from home to continue doing so can ensure your workers maintain a safe distance from one another if your office is relatively small.
- Future restrictions – In case there’s a spike in new cases in your area, maintaining work-at-home practices makes it easier to quickly transition back to this way of working if necessary.
- Low overhead during times of uncertainty – For each employee working at home, companies save an average of $11,000 per year. This can add to significant savings for mid to large sized organizations.
3. Maintain effective communication internally
One of the biggest stressors in the workplace is feeling like management is leaving you in the dark. This can cause lots of anxiety among your workforce, especially during times of uncertainty.
To keep workers feeling secure in their jobs, make sure you take the time to address common questions about things like working from home, dealing with children at work, and sick-leave policies.
You can communicate these things via email, on digital signs in your office, or on a bulletin board. Just be careful about overwhelming your employees with too much information. This can lead to even more stress and cause employee productivity to decrease as a result.
4. Keep your employees engaged and motivated
Quick changes to your employees’ routines can lead to stress and decreased productivity. Because of this, it’s important to make sure you find creative ways to keep them engaged and motivated during the transition.
You can accomplish this in a few ways:
- Encourage workers to share hobbies, pictures of their pets, or about a recent TV show they’ve watched through your digital communication channels.
- Challenge your workforce to some friendly competition, such as the most beautiful work-at-home setup or a mask contest.
Keeping your workforce connected in friendly and fun ways is a great way to keep them motivated and engaged. If the social contract they get from the office is enjoyable, they’ll look forward to coming back to work rather than seeing it as a hindrance.
5. Stay up-to-date about new health standards
The best way to ensure the safety of your workforce and the security of your business is to be proactive. While a vaccine for COVID-19 is on the horizon, it’s too soon to know how effective it will be. That’s why it’s important to stay up to date on information shared from your public health department to keep your employees as safe as possible.
Complying with safety standards requires a lot of effort and comes with heavy administrative burden. But with Safety Assure app you can easily achieve that. Your team can have a clear overview of OSHA, ILO, and other regulations. This mobile app helps with the record keeping tasks required by OSHA for injury and illness incidents by enabling employees to log incidents, accidents, near misses, and observations with ease. This way, your company can easily comply with safety standards, avoid unwanted penalties, and lower operational costs in the long term.
It’s also important to stay up to date on any technological changes necessary to make sure your company can adapt to any new situations. New technologies involving things like video conferencing and project management are constantly evolving, so keeping up with the changes going on in the software you’d use to work from home is equally important.