As we begin to return to the office in larger numbers, we need to take a look at the things small businesses must consider during this time. For the last year and a half, we have changed what we are accustomed to in terms of our work habits. We were expected to adjust to a remote or partially remote situation, and now we are once again expected to transition back into our original workplace – though in a much different scenario this time.
This checklist will help your small business make the transition back to the workplace as smooth as possible for your employees.
Download a printable version here:
Reassess work arrangements
The first step is to determine who comes back, and when. This generally will mean essential employees returning to the workplace first, and then scheduling the return of other employees next, so that not everyone is coming back and getting settled at the same time. It is possible that employees who moved to working from home during the pandemic will prefer to stay remote or request a more flexible schedule. If this is the case, assess how the productivity of your team was affected by remote work, and whether it is a long-term solution for your employees. Issuing a new terms of employment letter with the new expectations and work structure is a good way to introduce or remind employees of any policies that have changed.
Prepare physical environment
To ensure that your employees feel safe returning to work, it is important that you take steps necessary to deep clean and sanitize the office space before employees return. Keeping up with regular cleaning and also communicating what is being done to keep the workplace safe helps ease fear that might be present during the return to work process. The office space may need to be rearranged to accommodate for social distancing. Providing sanitization supplies around the office such as hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes also gives employees a chance to take matters into their own hands when they feel the need to.
Create / reassess HR policies
Businesses must ensure that all workplace policies are aligned with the return-to-work strategy. It is important to determine any remote work policies that will be put into place if remote work remains an option. Reassessing benefits and finding opportunities to provide high value benefits, as this will incentivize workers to return.
Provide employee support
The pandemic has been difficult for us all, both professionally and personally. Transitioning back to work, especially during an uncertain time, is another stressful event that employees may need some help through. It may be helpful for you to schedule a call with each employee prior to their return, to check in on how they are handling their situation and what they may need to feel comfortable coming back to the office. Making a point to provide employees with information about what the company is doing to protect their health will also help ease some of their anxiety and assure them that steps are being taken to keep them safe. Providing emotional support to your employees during this time is crucial and will allow for an easier transition to our new normal.
The decision to reopen and bring employees back into a working environment is something that should be evaluated carefully and taken seriously. With all the information circulating around us, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and not know what to do when it comes to parts of this process. The team at Employers Advantage LLC is always here for support and guidance so you and your team don’t have to go through this alone.