Most business owners decided to close down their offices and either shut down entirely or make the jump into remote work for their employees. Now its time for another decision. When should you open up your office and bring employees back to work? Opening up the workplace and bringing your employees back is potentially dangerous for them as well as for you.
Here are five issues you need to prepare for before opening those doors and bringing your workers back.
1. Not Enough Space for Social Distancing?
You may want to bring everyone back and get back to (the new) normal, but what if you simply don’t have enough space to fit all of your employees in the office and keep that minimum six feet of separation?
You’ll want to rearrange the office or label desks that are off-limits to ensure proper social distancing measures
. Then, do the math and see how many people you can fit. If it’s not everyone, you should consider only bringing in a part of your staff for the time being. If available, stagger shifts, so part of the team works one week and the other half the next.
It may also be an excellent time to consider which employees want to come back and which ones don’t feel safe. Those answers could take care of the problem for you.
2. What About Office Visitors?
Regardless of the type of business, visitors to the workplace are a fact of life. Sales calls, interviews, and client meetings are bound to happen at some level. Of course, you can do what you can to minimize visitors by having virtual meetings and interviews, but some traffic is bound to come in. The key is to have a plan
Who will greet visitors, and where? Can you establish one “safe zone” or meeting room to use for all visitors? Once you have a plan in place, be sure to post signage to give your visitors a heads up to your game plan before they step foot through the door.
3. You Have Customers
If your business isn’t just an office, but a business that caters to the public, you will have customers. And where you have customers, you have lines. You may need to adjust the layout of your business to accommodate lines. Use markings and signage to direct customer traffic flow and to keep social distancing measures in place.
How can you minimize your customer traffic without cutting your profits? Offer curbside pickup
if you can. You get to keep registers ringing, but you’ll also make a lot of customers happy by offering a safe, convenient way for them to patronize your business.
4. Someone Gets Sick at Work
This is a scary one. No matter what you do to keep your workplace safe, there’s always a chance that someone will come to work and only then start to feel symptoms. You can (and should) encourage your employees to stay home from work
if they are feeling any symptoms at all. It doesn’t matter if it’s just a cold, the flu, or telltale signs of COVID-19.
But what’s the plan for the employee who gets ill while at work? If it’s easy to send them home, great. Do that. But if not, you’ll need to get them into some quarantine to keep your other employees safe.
Establish a room that can work as a quarantine area for sick employees. Make it as comfortable as possible for them while they wait for medical attention or family. Find one that’s big enough to have a couch or something so they can lie down.
It may seem paranoid to have a quarantine room, but it will be necessary for a while.
5. Breakrooms and Restrooms
When your employees come back to work, you can’t expect them to sit at their desk the entire day. They are human, after all.
If your breakroom is small, do what you can to separate tables for social distancing. You may want to stagger breaks to minimize the number of people hoping to use the break room at any one given time.
Restrooms are a tough spot. Encourage your employees to take turns and wait outside if there appear to be more than one or two people in the restroom at a time. It may be worth the effort and expense to have bathroom monitors assigned to limit the number of people going in.
As for those soap dispensers, you’ll want to keep them well-stocked at all times!
Back to Work Means Back to Life
Despite the challenges and fears of getting back out there and opening up places of work, it has to happen at some point. Give yourself and your staff the time you need to do it right and establish a functional but safe workspace. Be open to feedback. Your employees need to feel that they have some say in their safety, and they may give you some great ideas.
A FREE Resource to Help
When you are ready to start planning your employees return to work, start with the Back to Work - Quick Start Guide. You’ll find the information you need to know before getting back to work and a few tips for optimizing your workspace.
Stay safe, and stay productive!