Returning to work while COVID-19 is still an active issue can be a delicate balance. It’s hard to know when it will be safe to be back in the office and what that office will look like.
A recent survey found that 2 out of 3 Americans were not comfortable with returning to work. Knowing that safety is a concern for your employees and taking every precaution you can as an organization will make a difference.
We’ve compiled five best practices for returning your employees to in-person work while prioritizing employee well being. These guidelines are flexible enough to adapt to your organization’s unique needs, company culture and timing.
Returning to Work Safely Looks Like:
1. Follow local guidelines
Adhere to state and county guidelines as they pertain to business closures and public gatherings. Doing so offers basic protection to you and your employees. If guidelines require your workforce to stay home, take an inventory to discover if returning to the office is best for your business.
2. Don’t force a return to work
Moving too quickly could have serious health and safety repercussions for your employees and their families. As PWC recommends, use data — not dates — to plan a return to work. Dates are just arbitrary milestones, while data leads to informed decisions. Informed decisions will directly impact your employees’ safety, well-being and job satisfaction.
3. Expect challenges
There are no silver bullet, one-size-fits-all solutions. COVID-19 has affected many levels of social and economic infrastructure, so the process of bouncing back will likely feel challenging and uncertain at times. Make sure to manage personal stressors, and consider utilizing the free tools in our Care in Crisis Resource Center.
4. Own the pivotal moments
COVID-19 will be a defining moment in your organization’s history. Leaders should communicate transparently to build lasting trust, even through difficult or inconvenient changes. Additionally, mid-level managers can use helpful strategies to manage newly remote workforces. Responsible leadership will be remembered and celebrated by employees, customers and stakeholders.
5. Get employee buy-in
Communicate plans, expectations and updates frequently. Then, take things one step further: look to your employees for input. Use pulse surveys or an online Q&A to ask questions and directly gather opinions. When employees feel their voice is heard, they’re nearly five times more likely to feel empowered to do their best work.
No matter how COVID-19 unfolds, your company will face unique challenges. They’ll stretch your culture and they’ll stretch your employees. As you stay grounded in strong principles, your organization will minimize negative consequences and employee frustration.