The lockdown has been a challenging period for all of us and we are yet to learn to live and work with the danger of COVID-19 still lurking. For months now, companies have been operating from home to protect their employees.
Many of them have already returned to their offices while others will stick to the remote working plan for the foreseeable future. However, transitioning back to the office is not simple. People are justly concerned about their safety and are unsure of how to protect themselves. Every individual copes with these concerns differently.
In this article, we deliver advice to help make returning to work easier.
Return Gradually to the Office
If it’s possible, you should plan to have employees return to the office gradually, one by one or group by group. With fewer people in the office, there’s less chance of the virus spreading in your company.
Also, given the current state of the world economy, there’s hardly any need for all your employees to be at the office right now.
Some of your employees can return to the office while others remain at home for a while longer. After several months of lockdown and staying at home, many of them will be more than happy to return to the office, with preventative measures, of course.
You can also consider changing work hours or implementing flexible work hours to protect everyone.
It is safe to say that we will be wearing face masks for a long time. Even though the world is slowly returning to normal, you are not allowed to enter a store or office without a face mask in most countries. It has been shown that the transmission rate is reduced by 75% when face masks are used.
Employers should make sure to provide enough face masks for their employees. It’s best to use reusable cotton masks (see them here) that can be washed and used again.
Maintain hand hygiene and clean your desk regularly. Keep a hand sanitizer near you at all times.
Office premises should be cleaned and disinfected daily to protect employees.
Maintain Social Distancing
Make sure that you maintain social distancing as much as possible in your work environment. This requires your office sitting plan to be reorganized to allow a two-meter distance we are advised to respect. Since this is not always possible in an office, this is another reason why you should consider allowing some of your employees to resume working from home.
Also, social distancing means there will be no large office meetings or lunches in the cafeteria for the foreseeable future. Businesses should conduct their meetings via Zoom or Skype for the time being.
Prepare for the Changes
Employers across the world are obliged to create a safe environment for their employees so that they can return to the office. A COVID-19 risk assessment is mandatory as well as creating a detailed plan regarding health and safety measures. It may take a little while to adjust to these changes so prior to going back to work, you should gather as much information as you can about the changes that will be implemented.
Ask your employer what will be different when you return to the office. What will your first day at the office look like? What safety measures will be in place?
It is important to know this so that you can prepare for the challenging tasks of going back to work with the still-present fear of coronavirus.
The COVID-119 crisis has been a stressful time for everyone and it continues to affect us mentally and physically. Dealing with all the information, devastating statistics, and new safety measures frequently being implemented can be tough if you don’t share it with someone.
Especially with the isolation that we have endured, communication is an important aspect of adjusting to the new normal.
Communicating your fears to your line manager, your colleagues, and your family is one of the best ways to alleviate the stress.
Returning to work after the lockdown is not something that is done in a day. We must understand that it’s a process that will take time for everyone to adjust to, and for companies to resume work at their previous pace. No one has all the answers because we are all still learning daily about the dreadful virus that swept the world. We are adjusting to something entirely new that we haven’t experienced before and the pressure to get things back to as they were overnight is pointless.
You should strive to take one step at a time and see how it goes.