Over the last few months, every industry has been challenged by the Coronavirus pandemic. After experiencing years of unprecedented growth, this year will force us to think differently in our respective industries. This global pandemic has changed our lives, our relationships, and our businesses. 

As we continue to reopen, we will venture into uncharted territories as we navigate a post-COVID world. During these times, it is important to follow the guidelines set forth by our federal government, our local government, and the CDC. Likewise, it is important to understand your business and personal limitations and those of your employees. Below are a few considerations for returning to an in-office or on-site work area. 

Prepare Your Workspace and Employees

It is imperative that you prepare your office and employees. As the saying goes, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”, that has never been truer. Everyone is worried about returning to work and most people do not trust others to have their best interest at heart. Before returning to work, it is important to do a few things:

  1.  It is important that your employees know that you value their health and safety and that you are making it your number one priority. Make sure you communicate this effectively!
  2. Thoroughly sanitize your office space to make sure it is ready for the arrival of you and your employees. 
  3. Remember all cleaning supplies are not made the same so make sure you use a disinfectant that is specified by the CDC. 
  4. Stock up on hand sanitizer, have masks on hand and prepare to keep up with a much more stringent cleaning schedule. 
  5. Set a teleconference or send correspondence to your employees about the ways in which your business is addressing the virus to make your workplace as safe as possible. 
  6. Outline your plan for reopening and make sure that you perform the items that you list. Your employees will lose faith in your leadership if you say one thing and do another. 

Adjust Workplace Expectations

When returning to work it can be easy to return to your regular habits, but this may no longer be appropriate in a post-covid workplace! There are a few basics every business needs to do including offering hand sanitizer and masks. The most important thing for leadership is to lead by example! Remember, you should not ask your employees to do something that you will not do yourself. Base your plans on the needs of your industry when determining what tools would be effective in fighting the virus. Here are some ideas from various workplaces:

  • Allow employees to come in on staggered days.
  • Put Plexiglas between the reception desks, cashier stations, and/or cubicles.
  • Remind employees on a regular basis to wash their hands, and keep a social distance.
  • Display signs that are visible about ways to combat the spread of the virus in the lobby area, office, and bathrooms. 
  • Let some or all of the employees continue to work remotely.

Continue Your Work From Home Flow

Several experts predict that this forced remote work situation will fundamentally change the way we work forever. One important way to be the employer that thrives after this pandemic is to be open to this new way of working. If your employees indicate that they want to continue to explore remote work as a permanent or semi-permanent solution, listen, and work with them.

A rigid approach to this request could force your organization to lose exceptionally talented individuals. Craft a policy that works for your business, make sure it is legally sound by engaging legal counsel, and work together with your employees to find a remote or semi-remote environment that serves everyone’s needs.

Being prepared for our new normal is necessary. The way to do that is to truly understand the implications of the new work/life reality, to be honest about your employee’s needs, and to build the most productive team post-COVID-19.