Many employees were asked to work remotely from their homes or to simply take extended leave due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, some companies are now asking employees to forgo working from home and instead return to the workplace.
Naturally, a few employees will have some trepidation at this request due to safety concerns – after all, the pandemic isn’t over yet. Others will have found that their staff adapted well to remote working and aren’t at all happy with the request to return to the work premises. In either case, the company must assure employees through the process of returning to work that it’ll be safely done.
Here are a few steps to take to assist employees with returning to the workplace.
Operate a Safety Meeting
A safety meeting is critically important for the business to have. It can cover new protections in place to keep employees safe from COVID-19; however, it may also detail procedures relating to accidents, illness, safety violations, and more.
Using information provided from Weekly Safety is a good start. Companies can choose to conduct the meeting in a large group in an open-air setting, split the meeting into several sessions, or conduct it virtually over a Zoom call before people return to their work.
Employees Should Be Screened Regularly
It is up to the company what they feel are appropriate measures to keep staff safe. Sure, the CDC and other organizations have made strong suggestions or guidelines to follow. However, these need to be reviewed and applied selectively because not all will be viable or practical depending on the industry, setting, and personnel.
One area of particular note is screening for COVID. Temperature checks can be performed before allowing entry into the building. Yet this is only useful for people showing symptoms. Asymptomatic employees could pose a risk to other people while not having an elevated temperature or flu-like symptoms. With this in mind, it may be worth providing home testing kits that your employees can conduct on themselves and their family members at appropriate intervals – twice a week seems to be common for many.
Should a COVID-19 Test Be Necessary?
Obtaining a COVID-19 rapid test is time-consuming and somewhat costly. However, some businesses will feel that it’s the best approach to take. That way, on the day they open, they could potentially be assured that everyone entering the building has a clean bill of health.
However, it’s a restrictive policy that doesn’t allow for later possible exposure or the need to accept clients into the building for meetings, and so forth. Companies will need to decide where they stand on this and possibly liaise with employees to get their take on it.
Should a Vaccination Be Required to Return to Work?
In some companies, they’ve taken the stance that vaccination is required to be on company premises. It is a highly controversial step. There are plenty of people who do not believe they’re at risk and/or refuse to get the vaccine for various personal reasons. Also, from a medical standpoint, taking it may pose an undue risk if they have other underlying medical conditions.
Therefore, we recommend that companies consider this a measure of last resort, and an extreme one, when bringing staff back to work.
Of course, the premises should be thoroughly disinfected before anyone returns. While the half-life of COVID suggests that this is unnecessary if the premises have been vacated for weeks or longer, it will provide comfort to worried staff members who are being asked to return to their desk or workstation.
Image Credits: Laura Davidson