A Plan for Returning to Work After COVID-19 – What Employers Need to Consider

Author: Marketing Team - Ergonomics 101  Date Posted:21 May 2020 

Are you returning to work after recent restrictions due to COVID-19?

A return to business, as usual, is right around the corner for many employees, as Coronavirus based restrictions are slowly lifted. And, it's a welcome change for companies and workers who have been forced to adapt to remote workplaces, social distancing, and travel bans. 

But, the transition back into office life can be hazardous without proper planning. And, businesses that aren't prepared, risk a rocky transition.

Businesses of all sizes returning to their regular premises should move forward with a well thought out system that maintains employee safety, manages company resources, and builds team morale.

Keep reading for some essential considerations that will help your business and its employees successfully transition back to work.

 Returning to Work After the Coronavirus - What Employers Need to Consider 

So, you know that you need a return to work plan. But what does that mean? In this section, we'll give you a detailed list of concerns, no matter what sized workplace you're dealing with. 

 Keep Employee Numbers Low 

Large numbers of employees returning to their shared workplace creates a risk for the spreading and contracting of the Coronavirus. So, managing the number of workers is vital to their protection. Simply put, more employees equals more risk.

Your best bet is to plan a gradual reintroduction to the office. Or, you might prefer to establish a rotating group of employees working from the office on set days. No matter which of these plans suits you best, you'll want to ensure coverage across multiple roles and continue to support social distancing.

Don't give in to the temptation to reopen to full staff at maximum capacity all on day one. 

 Keep Going Remote 

Even if your regular work is open for business, it's a good idea to keep some of your team operating remotely. 

Multiple waves of lockdown may continue for some months. And, asking your team to jump back and forth between a local and remote position can cause undue stress. Minimise disruption by keeping some employees at home until the threat is reduced significantly.

Also, keep in mind that a return to remote work might be forced upon your entire staff if one team member contracts the virus. So, it's better to be safe and keep some employees at home. 

 Rethink the Office Layout 

Reopening your workplace won't remove all of the restrictions applied during COVID-19.

Businesses will still be required to practice social distancing, restrict employee gatherings, and maintain proper workplace hygiene. And, it's highly unlikely that your pre-virus working environment is suited to these new guidelines.

Reconfiguring all areas of your business to allow for six feet between employees is a considerable task that impacts seating and desk arrangements, as well as shared spaces like lunchrooms and break out areas. Considering workplace ergonomics and placement of office chairs and convertible workspaces when making any changes is important to avoid injury later on.

While changing your office's physical layout might seem like one of the most intimidating steps in this list, it doesn't have to be! Ergonomics 101 can help you make the change in a way that's easy, affordable, and above all, safe for your staff. Contact us for more information. 

 Boost Morale 

For team members who have been away from the workplace for weeks or months, returning will be a challenge. Significant changes may have taken place in their absence, and some of their old colleagues might not be returning at all.

A motivated team is a key to your business success, so it's essential to rebuild workplace morale. Address employee concerns and treat all staff members with sensitivity.

If fog of low morale is hanging around the office, you'll want to improve the workplace culture. This might include announcing team achievements, encouraging collaboration amongst staff, and painting a positive outlook for the future.

Then, once restrictions are lifted, you can consider a fun team-building event to lift the whole staff's spirits.

 Don't Overlook Infrastructure 

For many businesses, it will take many months to return to business practices that were considered normal before the COVID-19 disruption. So, you'll likely face deficiencies in your infrastructure.

Start by asking each department to review its operations and identify any areas of weakness or deficiency. The process of research, evaluation, and implementation should be swift, to avoid a major loss of productivity.

This step is especially important when it comes to the technical aspects of your workplace. And, if you don't have the proper support on-site, don't be afraid to outsource. IT firms and consultants can make a big difference when writing your company's return to work plan!

 Keep Communicating 

COVID-19 has forced businesses to step up their communication skills. And, returning to the workplace isn't a reason to relax this.

Keep in mind; it's easy for a change in the work environment to cause a shift in focus. But, keeping those lines of communication open can help overcome this. And, maintaining frequent communication also provides reassurance to employees.

Your staff will likely have questions about the business's future and their roles. Two-way communication, like employee surveys, can help to gather information on how your employees are feeling, what they need, and even boost their morale.

 Never Stop Learning 

While the changes forced upon many workplaces during the pandemic have proven challenging, they have been highly beneficial, too.

Your team may have built stronger collaboration within and across their organisations, established productive working routines, and taken on some positive new health practices. But, it's up to business owners and managers to put the lessons they've learned to good use.

While much of your staff might be feeling fearful about returning to work, a well-authored plan packed with insight will keep them safe and help them feel reassured. 

If you found this article helpful, check out the rest of our blog posts. You'll find them packed with information on ideal home and workplace ergonomics for your health.

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