As companies return to work due to lockdown ease, people will need some time to adjust to the lifestyle changes that came with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Transitioning from remote to office work may be scary and awkward for many. This is why employers need to make the workplace more conducive by making changes to policies, improving the physical condition of the workplace, and enhancing employee relations.
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Here are 4 steps to prepare your office for the post-COVID-19 return to work.
Create A Safe Working Environment
Once work resumes after COVID-19, it is imperative to prioritise health and safety by making the workspace safe for employees to work in.
This will involve hiring a cleaning service to clean up the entire office.
Don’t rely on regular cleaning products, as the quality cleaning solutions of these cleaning services will be much more effective than typical products.
Even though no one may have been in your office for weeks, a thorough clean up will make everyone feel safer and make the office more appealing to work in.
Finally, make changes to the daily cleaning routines in the office. If cleaners were only focusing on cleaning bathrooms before, modify your contract to include disinfecting workstations every night and cleaning common areas multiples times throughout the day.
Encourage Good Hygiene
After cleaning a place, maintenance is key to keep it safe and healthy.
Encourage employees to adhere to good hygiene guidelines.
You can commission managers and the whole HR team to lead by example. Employees are more likely to follow best practices once they see leaders doing so.
Give employees an extra reminder by hanging posters in common areas. Include the following information.
- Cough/sneeze into elbow or tissue
- Wash hands frequently
- Don’t come to work when ill.
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Encourage employees to maintain good hygiene by stocking up on items such as hand sanitiser, soap, disinfectant wipes and sprays, paper towels, tissues, facemasks, and so on
Even if lockdown has been lifted, consider bringing people back to the office in stages. Implement part-time remote work once in a while to reduce the number of people at the office, and have this on rotation. Also, consider enforcing indefinite remote work for employees who can do it.
Change policies about holding meetings by adhering to social distancing rules. Don’t stuff too many people into a conference room at once. Consider asking employees to fill meeting rooms up to half capacity and to hold larger meetings over video conference.
After a few months of working from home, following the less flexible structure of work-life (earlier alarms, commuting, confined spaces, etc.) might feel overwhelming.
Make it easy for employees to ease into the office setting by:
- Creating flexible work hours for the first few weeks
- Providing employees with tools for productivity to enable them to get back into the workflow.
- Enabling employees who can work from home do so if their job allows it.
- Make employees comfortable by keeping up with workplace rituals if it is safe to do so (e.g. birthday gifts, office wear traditions, choosing an employee of the month, etc.)
Adaptability is Key
To adapt to the “new normal” after COVID-19, employers should create a workspace that fosters flexibility, honest communication, and adherence to best practices. This will ease the transition for workers and help them adapt to the new post-cOVID-19 era.
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