A year ago, the COVID-19 pandemic sent non-essential employees to their homes. Many office and school employees adjusted to remote working while others, unfortunately, went without work. As vaccination efforts pick up and coronavirus cases decline, many businesses and corporations are discussing return to work plans.
Employers paying for empty office space are eager to get back in the office. Employees are waiting to return to some normalcy after working out of their kitchens, basements and spare bedrooms for the last year. Corporate executives around the country are wrestling with how to return to the office safely and timely.
Many large tech companies have recently announced return to work plans. Facebook plans a phased return to work as long as COVID-19 numbers continue to decline, starting on May 10. Microsoft and Uber welcomed employees back to their headquarters at the end of March.
COVID-19 Return to Office Plan
After assessing your workplace, it’s time to create a return to office plan for your employees. Here are the most important items that you’ll want to make sure you include in your return to work plans:
Anticipated Return to Work Date: It’s important that you give your employees a clear date for when they can return to the office safely so they can plan accordingly. If you plan on a phased return to work, make sure your employees are aware of their specific start date.
Disinfecting and Cleaning Measures: Ensure office hygiene procedures are in place to mitigate the spread of germs and viruses. Clean and disinfect all surfaces, including workers’ phones, desks, keyboards, handrails and doorknobs. Encourage your staff to use disposable wipes regularly.
Social Distancing Protocol: Social distancing is the practice of limiting physical space between individuals to limit contact and decrease the spread of sickness. Businesses can enforce social distancing by using floor markers, avoiding large group gatherings and hosting virtual meetings when possible.
Personal Protective Equipment Use: Employers are expected to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to employees to reduce exposure to COVID-19. Make sure your employees are made aware of required PPE use.
Employee Screening Procedures: To make sure your employees are safe, conduct screening procedures to detect potentially ill employees before they enter the office.
Sick Leave Policy: Encourage your employees to err on the side of caution if they’re not feeling well and stay home. Adjust your sick leave policy to accommodate days off or remote working options for sick employees.
Employee Safety Training: Your return to work plan should include detailed safety training to ensure that all employees understand how they can prevent the spread of COVID-19 and comply with company procedures.
Mental Health Considerations: The pandemic has taken a toll on many American workers physically, mentally and emotionally. It’s important that your return to work plan includes guidance for managing mental health concerns.