An Employer’s Guide to Returning to Work After COVID-19

returning to work after covid

Reopening your business and returning to work after covid to work will bring with it new adjustments. Everyone has had to adapt over the last year, whether that has meant working from home or closing businesses entirely. If you’re at the point where you’re allowed to reopen and you’re ready to do so, you may be wondering what you need to put in place.

It’s worth doing your research and finding out what measures need to be set up before you open your doors again. This is for the safety of you and your employees and to ensure your business doesn’t end up getting shutting down for any reason. Take a look at this guideline for returning to work after Covid.

Contact Your Employees

Many businesses have found ways of communicating with their employees internally. Whether it’s the use of a forum, basic email, or Team meetings, businesses have adapted to the new norm. You can use this to start a discussion on returning to work.

It’s best if you give your employees as much prior notice as possible. Ask your employees for their opinions on returning to work. You could do this as an anonymous survey so they feel more comfortable answering honestly. You can expect a majority of your employees to be against returning to work.

You must find out why your employees are hesitant. Are they worried about contracting Covid-19 from the office? Are they enjoying more flexibility? Some employees may be worried about exposing the virus to vulnerable relatives or their unvaccinated children.

If your employees are focusing on the bad aspects of returning to work, you must focus on the good aspects. For example, returning to work is often the best option for mental health. The routine of leaving home and seeing coworkers in person is great for boosting morale.

State and Local Guidelines

Your employees need to know that you will adhere to all state and local rules for managing the workplace during the Covid-19 pandemic. There needs to be a plan in place that complies with all guidelines so everyone that enters your place of work is kept safe.

It’s important to consult with your local authorities on health and safety measures required for the workplace before you present your return to work plan. For example, do you require office wall partitions to keep employees at a safe distance? Installing safety measures like this will give your employees more peace of mind.

Return to Work Plan

returning to work after covid

Once you have discussed things with your employees and you are aware of the local guidelines for returning to work, it’s time to create your plan. So, what could your plan look like?

Traditional- Your plan could include all employees returning to work for their full-time shifts. This means they would no longer work from home and every working hour would be spent in the office. This works well if your business has been closed entirely and you’re keen to get employees back to earn a wage again.

Incremental- After speaking to your employees, you’ll be able to gauge who is interested in coming back to the office and who would prefer to stay home. You could opt for bringing in teams of people at a time until all employees are back full-time. So, a phased re-entry to work.

Hybrid- You can also create a plan that works best for you. If your employees like the flexibility of working from home, why not offer them the best of both worlds? Joining their team in person at the office will be essential for team building and bouncing ideas but you may believe that employees work just as well at home as they do at the office. Sometimes there are fewer distractions at home.

You may choose to do two days at the office and 3 days at home or offer a permanent remote role to some of your employees who seem to be more productive when at home.

Publish Your Plan

Once you’ve published your return to work plan, you must welcome constructive criticism and suggestions from your employees. If they feel that their comments are valuable, they’re more likely to be accepting of the changes.

Explain that you’ve followed CDC guidelines for returning to work after covid and every measure will be taken to ensure their safety. You should provide instructions on how and when work will resume in the office and what equipment to return to work.

If any of your employees have a legitimate reason for being concerned about the return to work, you should encourage them to speak to your HR department and work with them to create a unique plan that works for everyone.

Furloughed Employees

returning to work after covid

If your employees have been furloughed, you may need to take a look at your business prospects before talking to your employees. When your business reopens, the furlough schemes will end but it may mean that you’re unable to keep every employee or some job titles and salaries will have to change.

Many businesses have been affected by Covid-19 and it could take months, or even years to fully recover. Take some time to think about whether the business can afford to retain all employees.

Returning to Work After Covid: Easing Anxieties

It’s not surprising that many employees have anxieties about returning to work after Covid. As an employer, it will be your job to put these anxieties at ease. Your employees need to know that you’re willing to do what it takes to protect them and get your business back to a good place.

Take a look at more of our articles for great business advice.

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