As businesses and community spaces begin a phased reopening over the upcoming weeks, employees will start to return to their workplaces. To make the transition back to work as smooth and safe as possible, organizations will need to adapt their policies and workplace environments for the COVID-19 era.
5 Step Plan for Returning to Work
1. Encourage a Clean and Safe Environment
Ensuring that the workplace environment is clean and safe to return to is the first and most important step that businesses must take when asking employees to return to work. Consider hiring a cleaning service to do a deep clean of your workplace, and make sure to focus on both individual workstations and common areas.
Organizations can ensure that preventative and infection control measures are routinely followed by conducting regular environmental surveillance checks. For example, are staff maintaining social distancing? Is everyone washing their hands upon entering common areas, such as break rooms? If masks are required, are staff effectively and correctly wearing their masks? Are staff avoiding gatherings in high-traffic locations and keeping group meetings to a minimum? Tracking these types of environmental surveillance while transitioning back to the workplace can be made easier with a software solution for employee health.
Encourage employees to follow CDC guidelines and continue to disinfect personal workstations throughout the day. (1)
2. Foster Active Communication
Before employees begin returning to work, organizations should make sure that they have a system in place for people to check-in and report their health status, including any COVID-19 exposures. This allows employers to proactively assess workforce readiness and stay aware of individual’s health status, even among large teams.
3. Maintain Productivity
Employees who are caring for children or sick family members may need to continue to work from home for an extended period of time. Using a tool such as an online employee health portal makes it easy for employees to request alternate work arrangements, and allows employers to manage workforce readiness in one central command platform. If possible, organizations can also consider adding flexibility to work hours to accommodate employees’ schedules.
Allowing employees to continue working remotely or adjusting workplace policies to allow a few remote work days each week can go a long way in restoring productivity. (2)
4. Support Ongoing Health Monitoring
Support ongoing health monitoring by developing processes for employees to track and manage their health, safety, and exposure. Organizations may also want to update company procedures to ensure that health monitoring is an ongoing process to support employee’s physical and mental health— not just something that occurs during a pandemic.
Additionally, organizations could consider providing antibody testing and vaccinations (when available) within the workplace environment, to increase convenience and availability for employees.
5. Prepare for the Next Crisis
While the clear priority right now must be coping with existing COVID-19 cases, it is never too early to begin taking steps to minimize the impact of the next pandemic. (3) The COVID-19 pandemic has given us clear lessons for what we can do now to prepare for the next global health crisis. For instance, we have seen the need to have systems in place for tracking and monitoring employee health and the impact of the outbreak in real time. Additionally, having a solution that is flexible and quickly adaptable for infection control and environmental surveillance is crucial for proactive prevention.
Performance Health Partner’s RESTART Program
Performance Health Partner’s RESTART Program is an Employee Health central command solution for proactively assessing the health and safety of your employees and managing workplace environments during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Empower employees to take control of their health through customized digital health tools such as employee assessments, health status reporting, environmental surveillance, and more.