Company leaders need a post-COVID-19 plan to welcome remote employees back to the office.
In 2020, many employees were sent home to work when COVID-19 hit the U.S. By December, 41.8 percent of America’s workforce was fully remote. But in recent months, companies have begun to bring workers back to their desks.
You need a plan to help workers adjust to an environment that is likely different than they left behind. Your goal is to keep everyone safe, informed, and as stress-free as possible. Promoting good mental health is as important as physical health!
Guide to bringing remote workers back to the office
Decide which employees should return first. Workers whose tasks are difficult to complete without onsite equipment and technology should be in the first wave. Also tap those whose jobs are “mission-critical” to the company. It’s wise to consider each employees’ current health. Those with high-risk medical issues may feel safer returning at a later date. Give workers an opportunity to voice their concerns on the matter.
Ensure compliance with local, state and federal COVID-19 regulations. Be aware that rules may change quickly if cases in your area spike. Employees will feel safer knowing you have policies and guidelines in place for temperature-checking, face masks and social distancing. Perform frequent cleaning and sanitization — especially in common areas — and make hand sanitizer available to everyone. Move desks, install dividers or rotate in-office schedules to maintain safe distances between employees.
Establish rules for employees diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19. Follow government and/or CDC guidelines when creating a policy for employees diagnosed with the virus or who may have been exposed. Your local health department is a good source for any questions you may have. Protect each employees’ privacy during communications, as instructed in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Keep the lines of communication open. These are trying times for everyone. Our routines have changed; some employees may need to adapt to new hours or work sites. That can leave many on your staff feeling insecure and stressed. Provide them with up-to-date information and an outlet to voice their concerns. Use company newsletters, an app, social media or a designated phone number as communication tools.
Give morale a boost. Welcome workers back with a gift to show empathy and gratitude. Food is always a good start! Cater in a lunch that adheres to all safety precautions. Another option (that lasts longer than a box lunch) is to give everyone a custom water bottle or company apparel with your logo. Consider corporate T-shirts for “casual Fridays.” Your staff will appreciate the kindness while you enjoy affordable branding!
Be prepared for the unexpected
It’s been a real roller coaster ride this past year and the future is still a bit murky. We may take two steps forward and one step back for a while but don’t give up. The key is being prepared for whatever comes your way.