After almost two years of adopting a work-from-home setup due to COVID-19, businesses attempt to pick up the pieces. This includes resuming on-site work.
However, how should businesses staff their offices once they open?
Once all offices are back to normal, it can be challenging to bring back all employees without increasing the risk of getting infected. After all, the virus is still there.
Plus, an employer’s primary concern is health and safety. They would not want to get infected because it will prevent them from earning, making them spread the disease to their family.
Hence, employers will need to proceed with caution. For one, there will be orders and guidance from the municipal, state, and federal levels to consider. To help you sort through this jumble of obligations, here are seven things that you need to consider:
Just because offices can now open their doors to welcome employees doesn’t mean you should. Depending on the situation in your area and the condition of your employees, you can consider your post-pandemic setup:
Full-time In-office Setup
This means bringing back 100% of your workforce to the office. Considering the safety protocols, will that be possible in your office?
Hybrid Work Setup
There are two ways to do this:
- Only the essential workers must be in the office, and the rest can work from home.
- Have two batches of employees who will shift from work-from-home setup to in-office set up every two weeks.
100% Remote Setup
We know that this post is all about welcoming your employees back to the office. Nonetheless, we need to emphasize that it’s okay if you choose to adopt a 100% remote work setup moving forward.
Should you decide to bring back your employees to the office partially, the next step is to determine who these people would be.
Obviously, they have to be your essential workers. These are people who need to be present in the office to get things done.
For example, if you own a bank, your essential workers would be your tellers.
Once you have identified the employees who will have to return to the office, the next step is figuring out where you will seat them.
As the World Health Organization recommends, people should be at least a meter apart to reduce the risk of getting infected. With that in mind, you need to consider whether your current office layout and seating arrangement will allow it. This is in addition to other safety protocols you have to implement in the office.
This is where having an open-floor design can be helpful. For one, it enables you to arrange your employees’ seating arrangement in a way that allows physical distancing. Second, it also allows you to improve the air circulation in the office.
While an open office layout can help reduce Coronavirus spread in the office, that does not mean that your employees will not get infected. Plus, not everyone who has been infected shows signs. Regardless, you need to set a system to isolate infected employees.
As CDC recommends, employees showing signs of COVID-19 when they arrive or during the day should be isolated. This is where you will need an isolation room.
While isolated, a healthcare professional can conduct tests and provide home isolation instructions. This includes following the CDC-recommended steps. This also means that you need to set what to do when an employee shows signs of the virus.
For instance, would you run a full-on RT-PCR test for all your employees? Will you let them work from home until they receive negative results?
These are things you should include in your “back to office guidelines.”
As much as you’d like all your employees to come back to work, do not get too excited about it. Instead, we recommend that you develop an admittance screening process.
This is as simple as sending out a questionnaire, asking if they had COVID-related symptoms during the last two weeks.
Doing so can help you assess the following:
- Are your employees ready to go back to the office?
- Do you need to run tests to identify which can go back?
From there, you can plan how you would like to open your office’s doors to welcome your employees back.
Planned Return Phases
Should you decide to bring back 100% of your workforce, we suggest doing it in phases. After all, employee safety is the most critical consideration when returning to work.
First, you need to ensure that all safety protocols are in place. Second, determine who should return to work in the office first. Often, it is the essential workers and those in managerial positions.
Doing so allows you to check what other safety protocols you need to implement. It also prevents your business from getting shaken up if one of your employees gets infected.
Because of COVID-19, there will be a strong emphasis on office sanitization. This is also something we tell our clients at Maid Sailors Office Cleaning Companies NYC. After all, cleanliness and hygiene reduce the risk of spreading the virus in the office.
That said, you need to maintain an office cleaning regimen. This can include hiring professional office cleaners since they are tested regularly for COVID infection. Another benefit is that you can sign a contract with them to help clean and sanitize your office every week.
Sure, we all have uncertainties when going back to the office. Still, the factors listed above can help you bring back a sense of normalcy in the workforce amidst the pandemic.