Across the country, states are easing restrictions and moving toward phased returns to the workplace. The rules and guidance vary from state to state, but one thing is clear: we all want businesses to be safe, operational and back to “normal” or something that resembles it as soon as it’s safe to do so.
As your organization prepares to re-open, considerations will vary depending upon the industry, services provided, and interaction with the public or clients. What might apply to a retail store, may not be necessary to a small business with no engagement with the public other than by phone. Service professions like hair salons, dentists, and restaurants typically have directives by their state before opening is permitted. That said, general guidelines for most organizations are noted below;
- Before employees report to work, review access and egress locations. If screening employees is a requirements, identify an area that will not cause congestion, and determine whether there is sufficient distancing for employees as they report to work. Depending on the size of your organization, consider staggering start times and end times. The CDC guidance includes returning to work in phases.
- Review floor plans and determine whether office areas need to be re-arranged, break rooms expanded or moved to insure employees can maintain a safe distance from one another.
- Prior to opening, make sure you have adequate cleaning supplies including hand sanitizers and disinfectants. Make sure they are available at heavily frequented areas – the break room, copy machines, timeclock, as well as any area that experiences high foot traffic.
- Put up posters or signs reminding employees to use hand sanitizer, frequently wash hands, and the common area items that they may touc#COVID
- If your office has been closed, make sure you post the Families First Coronavirus Response Act Notice in your break room or other open and conspicuous place.
- Provide hand-outs to employees of all new safety and post COVID-19 policies. Employees should be provided an acknowledgement form to be signed by them and returned to Human Resources for record-keeping purposes.
- If you are required by your state, or have determined that employees must wear face masks, make sure you have procured an ample supply and have them available as employees enter the building to return to work.
- If you are required to provide temperature checking, make sure you’ve procured an ample supply. Identify an area, free from the main area that provides privacy. Make sure your policy is available to all employees who must sign as acknowledgement. Your policy should dictate the protocol, who will serve as administrator of the tests, how the information will be stored, and privacy protected.
- Whenever possible, minimize non-essential travel and adhere CDC guidelines regarding isolation following travel.
- Consider special accommodations for employees who may be part of a vulnerable population.
- Upon re-opening, remind employees of social distancing and remove access if possible, to any open areas in which employees may congregate and where social distancing is not possible.
- Educate your managers about protocol as employees return back to work. Encourage them to talk frequently with their team, and remind everyone that their safety is paramount to the organization – and follow through. Encourage anyone with concerns to talk to their manager.
Communication is key to making any plan work and as we move forward, it’s important to remember that this is uncharted territory for employers and employees alike. Actively communicate with your team and remember, we are truly in this together.