For some, remote work is no longer a viable option. As new guidelines are released, and statistics are updated, some companies are eager to welcome employees back into the workplace. On the other hand, some have been clocking into work all along! For those who are employed at essential businesses, the concept of physically going into work is not new. However, as rules and recommendations are updated, management teams must be on top of their game. Not following COVID protocols in the workplace can lead to the spread of the virus, unsafe work environments, suspicion by the state, and the result of facing closure. This is why it is more important now than ever for management teams to practice effective communication as they welcome employees back to a newly regulated work environment. Here is how to talk to your organization about COVID protocols.
Before you can be in the position to recommend regulations and rules to your team, you must focus on fully educating yourself first. This will be an ongoing process, as updates are released frequently, and CDC guidelines develop further. Being on top of your game is crucial. Keeping yourself informed and in the loop with major releases and the happenings at other similar-sized companies will better prepare you for what’s ahead. Make sure to use reliable sources to gain information from, and always fact-check your information. Focus on exploring statistics and always compare your findings to catch any false information.
Handling the process of inviting employees back into the workplace should not be done alone. No matter how capable or experienced a manager, you are, no one has been trained to handle a pandemic before! This is why forming a team to help you decide on proper protocols, order necessary PPE, and communicate closely with your employees is vital. Many moving parts go into this process, and it will likely be costly for your business. Forming a team made up of individuals who you trust and who have specializations in different departments can make for a smooth return to the workplace.
While many of the rules and guidelines will be provided to you by state and federal regulations, you must also trust your instincts when making decisions that are smaller scale. These choices are the ones that directly impact your workforce and your workplace specifically. For example, if you decide to use arrows to direct people around the office and avoid crowding, use your best judgment to setup these directionals most efficiently and effectively. Remember, if something does not feel right, it probably isn’t. Trust your instincts.
Many workplace environments are required to have a screening plan in place before welcoming employees back. Making sure this is safe, comfortable, and efficient for your workers is crucial. In this process, checking employee temperature and dispensing hand sanitizer is standard practice. Ensure all employees are wearing a face mask before entering, too. Be sure to record the names, dates, times, and temperatures of each employee to help with contact tracing if needed. Encourage frequent hand washing and social distancing in the workplace, too.
Providing guidance for your employees who are also trying to navigate this strange time is a fantastic idea. Making sure that each worker knows the common COVID symptoms to watch for can help reduce virus spread. Encourage your employees to work from home or take the day off if they are feeling at all under the weather. If any employees have been exposed to COVID, mandate a rule which states they should stay away from work and quarantine for the necessary amount of time. Make mask-wearing, hand washing, and social distancing the norm. It is recommended to quarantine for 14 days after known exposure.
Before welcoming employees back to work, it is crucial to make sure that your building is ready to create a safe workplace environment. Taking advantage of the warm summer climate by allowing for more fresh airflow is recommended. Space out workspaces. This will allow for social distancing and help employees have more personal space. Replace communal items with single-serve individually packaged supplies. Be sure to schedule cleaning for frequently touched surfaces, too.
Everyone has a story. It is important to remind yourself and your team that your days will not be like your everyday operations. In some cases, you might have employees who contact you asking to work from home long-term. This can be disheartening, especially after putting so much time, effort, and finding into making the workspace as COVID friendly as possible. However, it is crucial to consider these requests on an individual basis. Keep in mind that while your workplace is brining employees back, others are not. This includes schools, some daycares, and other services that are necessary for families. Making special accommodations for employees is necessary during this time. Your workers have lives and responsibilities outside of the workplace.
Normalize regularly communicating with employees to check-in and send out updates to CDC guidelines and other recommendations that your establishment is following. Not only will this help your employees to become more educated on risk factors, but it will also open the communication channel between you and your teams. Having open communication is more critical now than ever!
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