The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a number of challenges for businesses looking to reopen their doors. The CDC has recommended that businesses consider ways to make their workplace more flexible for employees, such as remote work or hybrid office models, before going back to the workplace at full capacity. If businesses require their employees to return to the workplace, they must be mindful of the risks and take steps to provide a safe environment for everyone.
Must Dos for Returning to Work Safely
1. Consider local conditions.
Reopening should align with up-to-date federal, state and local government instruction, as well as public health recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ensure that it is safe to return. Employers should monitor their local infection rate, hospitalization rate and death rate due to COVID-19.
2. Assess your workforce.
Each workforce is unique and faces its own set of challenges. Businesses need to assess the vulnerability of their workforce and the risks involved with returning to the workplace. This includes evaluating customer-facing obligations, employee demographics, employee preferences and remote work capacity.
3. Evaluate your space.
Before going back to the workplace, evaluate your space to ensure it prioritizes employee health and safety. Employers may need to make some adjustments to their offices such as improved air quality and ventilation, physically distanced workspaces and elevator policies.
4. Review your local health guidelines and CDC standards.
Prepare your workplace for safe return by reviewing local health guidelines and CDC standards. Ensure that your ventilation, hygiene measures, testing protocols, personal protective equipment (PPE) use, and sick policies meet their health and safety recommendations.
5. Develop a plan.
After reviewing public health and safety requirements, employers need to come up with a detailed plan that is compliant and up-to-date! This plan should include implications for testing frequency, PPE use, cleaning procedures, temperature screening, sick leave policies, response to COVID-19 infection or exposure, and vaccination.
6. Educate your employees.
Businesses should communicate their plans for returning to work safely clearly with employees to ensure compliance. It’s important that your employees feel safe and supported upon returning to the workplace during a challenging time.