After a year or more of having staff working remotely during the coronavirus pandemic, organizations around the world are making plans for workers to return to the office. This planning is the result of infection rates trending downward and an increase in the number of people who have had the vaccine. Employers for many reasons are anxious to bring employees back to the worksite.
Depending on where you live chances are the health authority in your province, state or country have released guidelines that dictate how many people can gather in groups. These guidelines tend to specify the number of people who can congregate along with stipulations about requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated folks.
Some organizations are forming “Covid Teams”. These teams are responsible for reviewing local health ordinances then creating plans for the safe return of employees back to the worksite. When done right, these “Covid Teams” work alongside the HR department to ensure that employee return to work plans are in harmony with the company’s safety policies and procedures.
Bringing back employees to the work site after a long absence working from home, it might make sense for your organization to survey its staff to take the pulse of its workers. For some, returning to a worksite can’t come fast enough while others have embraced working from home. You may want to ask if working parents have confirmation about schools reopening in the fall, or if there is still uncertainty about how the next school year will unfold. You may also want to inquire about vaccine rates and the overall confidence your employees have about returning to a more normalized work life in the months ahead.
Bringing employees back slowly to the worksite might be the best tactic when making return-to-work plans. If employees feel as though employers have created post-pandemic safety guidelines that will protect their health, chances are confidence levels will rise. Change management can be hard at the best of times, and creating return-to-work plans post-covid won’t be any different. Slow, gradual steps might take longer but could build more trust and buy-in along the way.
Your employees have become used to encountering plexiglass barriers in restaurants and checkout counters as a normal part of life during the pandemic. These physical barriers might be something you can install in the workplace to provide extra layers of physical protection. Doing so may make your staff feel safer when returning to an in-person work experience.
Elaine Allan, BA, MBA
Technology & Business Blogger
Vancouver, BC, Canada