As the COVID-19 situation improves in some states and regions, organisations are navigating the challenges of getting employees to return to the office. While there are many workplace tips out there, employers are still uncertain about getting employees back to work safely.
Organisations need to understand that it is not only a matter of unlocking doors and letting employees back into the workplace. They also need to consider compliance with state guidelines and the physical and mental health of employees.
Further, with the reopening of the office, employers have to consider the safety of employees and safeguard the health of visitors, contractors, and customers.
With so many considerations, we have picked out the top five workplace tips that organisations and employers can adopt to ensure that employees return to the workplace safely while keeping the office COVID-free!
Centralise reentry information for easy navigation
One of the workplace tips for re-entry into offices is for companies to have a centralised portal so employees can easily access information about workplace reopening. By having a centralised portal, companies can communicate important information such as reopening plans, key resources, and employee seating plans.
This workplace tip ensures that miscommunication is avoided. Employers can also leverage digital portals as a platform to communicate quickly with employees. While companies can disseminate information to employees via email, not all employees will be bothered to open emails that seem irrelevant to them.
Another way to implement this workplace tip is to use a desk booking app for the office. Through this app, employees can indicate the timing and day they will be coming into the office. Thus, this allows companies to track where and when employees are coming in, making it easier to spread them out and reduce the contact between employees.
Not only can desks be booked, but desk booking apps can also help ensure that meeting rooms are not cross booked. This can also help facilitate the cleaning of the meeting rooms in between meetings.
Hence, by implementing this workplace tip of having a centralised portal for reentry information, companies will be able to expect clear and direct two-way communication. Further, the desk booking system can help companies respond swiftly if an employee shows symptoms of COVID-19.
Companies can focus cleaning efforts on the desk and meeting rooms the employee has been in and advise other employees in the office on the same day to self-quarantine and monitor their health.
Ensure the workplace is constantly being cleaned
Another important workplace tip for employers is to make sure that the office is continually being cleaned. Employees are naturally concerned about their safety when returning to the office. Thus, companies need to have cleaning protocols in place.
Companies must increase cleaning and sanitising practices in high-touch areas. High-touch areas include:
- Meeting rooms
- Visitor sign-in kiosks
- Shared desks
Further, another workplace tip is that it helps put employees at ease when companies openly advertise for increased cleaning and social distancing. This also serves as a reminder for all employees to observe personal hygiene.
Employers are strongly advised to encourage hygiene practices. They can do so by having signs that remind employees to wash their hands frequently, use a tissue when they cough or sneeze and wear a mask. Cleaning products such as hand sanitiser and disinfectant wipes are also strongly encouraged to be provided and placed in common areas.
Employers can also review cleaning procedures and consider increased enhancements during this time. For example, an office can consider hiring more cleaners to disinfect and clean the office more frequently than before.
Provide the option of hybrid work
While we understand that some companies want all employees to return to the office as soon as possible, we suggest allowing employees to adopt hybrid work. Hybrid work generally refers to a mixture of home-based and office-based work arrangements.
Some companies will decide when some employees work from the office and when some will work from home. For others, they let employees decide. Regardless of which one, it is essential that companies consider hybrid work before implementing full-time office-based work.
This workplace tip is also important for the well-being of employees. After almost a year of home-based work, most would have had a routine down and will be unwilling to shift to the office so soon. According to a survey by Slack, employees will prefer to have a choice. 72% of the workers surveyed mentioned that they would prefer a mix of home and office work.
One way that companies can implement this workplace tip is to stagger work times and days. This can help reduce the number of employees in the office, which can mitigates the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak.
The role of the office has shifted – it is no longer essential for employees to be productive. Therefore, to encourage employees to return to the office; organisations should implement this workplace tip to provide flexibility for employees to return.
Ensure there is constant safe distancing
The following workplace tip for managing re-entry into offices is to ensure there is constant safe distancing. It is highly recommended there is at least a one-meter distance between employees. There are two ways offices can ensure safe distancing:
- Reconfigure spaces
- Stagger everything
Depending on the movability of the office furniture, companies should move the desks around to create more space and distance between employees. Otherwise, companies will need to cut their capacity in half.
Some desks will have to be cordoned off, dedicated seating areas will have to be marked out, and common entertainment areas should be removed. Offices should also remove unnecessary seatings and monitors to stop employees from sitting too close to one another.
This workplace tip will ensure employees keep to their own space.
Another way to implement this workplace tip is to stagger everything – from work timing, lunchtime to break time. It is highly recommended for employees to schedule and stagger their lunch and break times to minimise contact with other employees in the office.
Screen for admittance to the office
The last workplace tip for managing re-entry into the office is to carry out mandatory screening protocols for all employees, contractors and visitors every day before they enter the premises. One way companies can carry out screening is via a visitor management system.
Companies can carry out temperature screening and reject people with high temperatures from entering the office through a visitor management system. Further, employees, visitors and contractors will have to fill up mandatory health declaration forms. These forms can include questions ranging from travel-related questions to health symptoms.
Thus, this workplace tip is crucial to make sure everyone going in and out of the facility is accounted for.
As offices begin to re-open, it is vital companies prioritise the health and safety of their employees. With the COVID-19 situation still fluctuating; companies are highly encouraged to follow the five workplace tips above to manage re-entry into the workplace. Let’s all do our part to keep offices COVID-free!