4 Ways Employers Can Prepare the Workplace

4 Ways Employers Can Prepare the Workplace for Employees Returning to Work

Returning to work has been top of mind for many employees and business owners across the country. Millions of people have filed for unemployment and the toll on our lives and economy has been huge. Now that some states are planning to lift stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders, overcoming the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic will be one of the biggest business challenges companies will face.

Develop a Plan

Having a well-thought-out plan in place will make the inevitable switch of returning to work less stressful. Preparation and communication during a crisis are paramount, and having an open line of communication with employees will help prevent stress and a potential second wave outbreak.

Companies should have a team that is responsible for developing a return to work plan. Leaders across key departments will provide important insight into different issues that will need to be resolved. Having human resources, legal, operations, and IT leaders working together to ensure the safety and seamless return for employees will be crucial, especially for larger companies.

Putting employees first and increasing employee engagement through these challenging times can become a way to strengthen loyalty and company culture. Make sure employees feel heard and ease any anxiousness by having leaders share the company plan.

Ensuring a Healthy Workforce

Opening your doors and allowing large numbers of people to return to a shared workplace is a huge risk for spreading germs and increasing the chance of a second wave of COVID-19 outbreaks. Instead, continue remote working but stagger employee reintroduction. Maintain regular communication and updates so staff know when they might be allowed to return to “normal” work.

Establish a protocol for employees that have been in contact with potentially infected people, and be sure to share develop and share an exit plan in case returned employees do end up testing positive for COVID-19.

Providing safety equipment

A number of companies are now selling hand sanitizer, masks, face shields, and necessary items to keep employees safe. Having these items in stock and readily available will ease tensions and help employees adjust to working in contact with others.

Make sure the work environment is sanitized well before employee arrival and that there are enough cleaning products and standard protocols for publicly used facilities such as restrooms and kitchen areas. Introducing a staggered return will keep these areas from becoming too crowded as well.

Improving air quality

If your business operates indoors and has been empty for a long period of time, it may be necessary to “air out” the office. Nobody wants to return to an environment with stale air, especially after being confined indoors during quarantine. Studies have even shown that air quality improves productivity, including one described by Science Mag. Here are some ways to improve air quality at work:

  • Check the HVAC system is running smoothly – now that we’re hitting summer months, you wouldn’t want the system to malfunction once employees return
  • Change air filters – MERV 13 air filters are even able to help prevent the spread of airborne viruses and allergens. Your employees will breathe easier knowing that the circulated air is being properly filtered.
  • Add plants – not only do certain plants help purify the air, but they also are a great way to refresh a space and add color. Some of the top air-purifying plants are aloe vera, spider plants, snake plants, areca palms, dragon trees, and rubber plants.
  • Check that all IT equipment and any other necessary work equipment is functioning properly before employees return so that any necessary repairs can occur without disruption.
  • Stay informed and educated on how to properly maintain good indoor air hygiene for the benefit and safety of all employees.

Stay up to date by checking the Center for Disease Control’s announcements and follow the guidelines issued by applicable government agencies to ensure that your business is complying with your state and area’s laws and regulations.