As vaccine distribution promises to increase, especially in California, we’re noticing lots of reopening plans announced. Most of us are eager to get back to some semblance of normal, whether that be at work or in our personal lives, likely both. But there are important factors to consider before inviting staff back to the office as it’s a decision that could affect the health of your business AND your employees.
Steps to take before reopening the office
1. First ask yourself, is it necessary? If working remotely has been successful so far, what are your reasons for bringing employees back? One silver lining to the pandemic has been the opportunity to make changes. Make sure not to revert to previous practices because ‘that’s the way we’ve always done it.’ Employees should head back to the office IF that is where they are most productive.
2. Safety first. Even if productivity has suffered the past year, employees should not return if the space is not safe for them. Has their workspaces been reconfigured to provide social distancing? Is there properly ventilation? Have efficient cleaning protocols been implemented? Are there educational materials about masks, vaccination options, and other pertinent information readily available?
3. Ask your staff. Do they want to return? Some employees have found that working remotely suits them very well while other may miss the ‘spark’ of being around others. Is there room for being flexible with schedules? If yes, do so. Also, take care to remember that the line between the working and personal life has become extremely blurred for most office employees this past year. If they still have school-aged children at home, it’s likely necessary to accommodate flexible work schedules so parents can attend to their children’s schooling demands.
4. Put together a “Return Team.’ It’s a smart move to create a team to handle the responsibilities of reopening. This team can identify weak points, answer questions, and collaborate to ensure a smooth process.
5. Review policies. Were there pay cuts that now need to be reconsidered? Changes to policies or procedures to communicate? Importantly, do you have a plan of action in place in case employees are exposed to covid? Depending on your location, you may now have some new legal requirements to adhered to as an employer. Educate yourself on these!
6. Lastly, stagger the return. It’s tempting to make a fuller office a celebration, and you can, but like all things this past year you should do it safely. Staggering employees’ return could look like only a few returning to the office in the first few weeks or different shifts and different work days. It’s an extra effort that will pay off.
While having to get creative with scheduling may feel like putting together an advanced-level puzzle, protecting the health of your employees is 100% worth it. And you don’t have to do it alone. If you’re in need of an experienced HR department, we invite you to reach out to the Eos HR team to find out how we can help. We work with small businesses to make sure the changes they want to implement are in compliance AND that they’re completed smoothly. Schedule a free consultation today to learn more.