Organizations are now slowly and gradually preparing to open their office premises again. The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way a physical office used to operate, forever. This poses multiple challenges for employers to ensure a safe return to work for their staff.

After over a year of work from home, employees are now skeptical about making this return. One of the many reasons behind this uncertainty is personal safety against the virus. To alleviate concerns employees may have on returning, organizations must effectively manage the change, and ensure their employees safety is kept as a priority.

We share 5 ways to help employers safely welcome their employees back:

Workplace Safety Measures

Revisit workplace safety bearing COVID-19 guidelines in mind. This may require employers to plan periodic disinfection of the office, modify cleaning schedules, re-skilling janitorial staff, install hand-sanitizer dispensers at multiple locations, display signs as a reminder to maintain social distance, ensure employees are wearing masks, and avoiding physical contact.

Track Symptoms

Encourage employees to stay alert and the track occurrence of any COVID-19 related symptoms such as body ache, fever, loss of taste or smell, etc. In which case, the respective employee should be advised to stay back, inform their manager, and continue working from home. If the symptoms continue to show, a negative PCR test may be made mandatory before joining back.

Modify Floorplans

We may be vaccinated, but we continue to be vulnerable. Maintaining a safe social distance upon returning to work is still relevant and should not be compromised. Make changes to the existing floorplan so it accommodates for recommended distance. This calls for limited occupancy of workstations, meeting rooms, and dining areas, etc. Moreover, clearly display identification signs to mark workstations, tables, and spaces not allowed to be used.

Make Face Masks Mandatory

The importance of wearing face masks cannot be emphasized on enough. Employers must make it mandatory to wear face masks when close to other employees. Also, as and when required, educate employees about the benefits of face masks in protection against the virus, its accurate use, and safe disposal.

Communicate Safety

Inform employees about the improved safety standards and policies through the HR team, company leaders, and managers. These communications can be in the form of an email, a video message, virtual town halls, or displayed on a company noticeboard. Teams can hold weekly or fortnightly meetings where they discuss safety and ways to promote it. The conversation around health and safety should continue so it becomes part of the culture.

Returning to work may be challenging for employees in one way or the other. It’s up to an organization on how far it can go to safeguard its most valuable asset – their employees. By adapting existing safety standards, installing new equipment, modifying seating arrangements, educating employees on the correct use of safety gears, and most of all maintaining continuous communication around new safety policies may be some of the ways through which this change can be managed positively.

With metier’s client-focused solutions, you can now deal with this challenge by creating a safe and healthy workspace for your employees. Our experts will help you formulate a sustainable and periodic communication strategy, and provide HR policy recommendations for preventive safety measures you can implement to make your employees feel safe upon their return.