This current global situation with the spread of the coronavirus is unprecedented, and it is something that businesses are having to respond to intuitively day by day. If you run a business and you are wondering how best to respond to the situation, there is plenty that you are going to have to consider. But one of the main things that you will need to think about is what you are going to do once the lockdown is lifted, and how you are going to get back to work and back to normal.
When this happens, your employees are going to want to know that it is safe to work in your workplace again and that they can feel comfortable too. There are a lot of things you can do in that regard, and in this article, we are going to take a look at the ones that are most effective. As long as you have considered these things, you will find that you can make your employees feel much more comfortable and maintain physical and psychological safety at work when they return.
1. Maintain Social Distancing
With the lockdown being (possibly) lifted soon, the CDC still recommends social distancing of 6ft. These measures are essential for helping to slow the spread of the virus, and it currently looks as though they might be in place for quite a long time. You need to make sure that you enact these measures in your workplace as soon as people return to work.
Of course, this is not something that many business owners are used to doing, but you will probably find that you become used to it soon enough and that you can work out how to make social distancing a priority in the workplace.
The most important thing is to show that you take it seriously, as that way your employees are also going to take it seriously. You should have posters up, send memos reminding people of the need for social distancing, and generally make sure that it is something people are strongly aware of.
One of the most powerful things you can do to show how important it is to be socially distant is to practice it yourself, especially if you are the kind of manager who is always there in the office with everyone else. Lead by example and you’ll find that this makes an enormous difference to how seriously your employees take social distancing.
The simple changes are those which will make all the difference here. You can promote social distancing by ensuring that the work desks are placed apart as much as possible. Or you can make sure that there is a rule about only one person going to the bathroom at a time. All of these changes might seem strange, but they are necessary – and remember, this is not going to last forever.
2. Stagger Shifts
One of the most invaluable ways to keep people separate once they return to work is to stagger out their work shifts. If you are having trouble with the above social distancing measures, then you will find that the simple process of having fewer people in the office at any one time is going to really help this along nicely.
It’s a simple matter of looking at the schedule and seeing where you might have extraneous people coming in, and then moving shifts around in such a way that you can remain socially distant while working.
There is a balance to be struck here, of course: you want your business to be able to keep up operations, but you don’t want to put anyone in danger.
So, find that balance as best as you can – it might take a lot of iterations to get it just right, but remember that it is better to err on the side of caution and be as safe as possible.
By staggering work shifts, you can help keep your people safe, and ensure that they feel much more comfortable in their work environment.
3. Keep The Workplace Clean and Sanitized
As you bring employees back into the workplace and start trying to get things back to normal, you are going to find that there is an increased need and expectation on making sure that you keep the workplace as clean as possible.
In order to prevent the spread of viruses and diseases, you have to keep the surfaces and floors and of your workplace sanitized and sparkling clean. You will need to introduce more stringent measures than ever to make sure that this happens. There are a lot of things to consider to ensure that this is done right.
The most important thing is that you hire professional cleaning services with high-sanitation standards to clean your office or workplace. Ideally, you should find a cleaning team that is certified in the basic protocols for virus sanitation and cleaning.
This is one of the only things on this list that you can outsource and it is arguably the most important. Having a professional cleaning company like MC Janitorial come in once, twice, or even three times a week will make a huge difference. You will see many benefits outside of just having a clean office but most importantly, you and your employees will have peace of mind knowing that you are in a safe space.
4. Downsize Your Operations
If you are having difficulty in figuring out how best to reduce the amount of staff you have in your office at any one time, then you might want to consider simply reducing the number of operations you are engaged in for the time being.
No business wants to have to do away with some of their potential business and downsize their operations, but it might be necessary if you are going to ensure that you promote the wellbeing and safety of your employees, and if you want to keep them employed.
When you do downsize your operations, you should ensure that you are thinking carefully about where you can cut and where you should probably leave things alone. This is sometimes easier said than done, but with some careful planning, you should be able to get to figure something out in no time.
The most important thing is to bear in mind that you should prioritize the health of your employees in a way that doesn’t mean completely decimating your business’ chances of continuing and being successful. So be careful about what you cut and how you do it.
If you are having to reduce the work that you take from a new client, be sure to communicate with them about it well. Inform them of the steps you are taking and why you are taking them, and remember to be clear that it is not a long-term measure and has been taken as a result of the pandemic and its effects. You want them to remain on your side so you can work with them again once all this is over.
5. Deliver Your Services Remotely
Depending on what it is that you offer your customers as a business, you might well be able to make the switch to delivering the service remotely with no-contact. If this is at all a possibility for you, then it is absolutely something that you should think about doing.
For one thing, it reduces the amount of interaction that your employees have to have with other people, thereby helping to keep them feeling safer and more comfortable. It also means that you can keep on running your business, so you won’t have to worry about coronavirus destroying what you have built up over the years.
If you think it’s going to be possible to deliver your services remotely, then you should make sure that you do so carefully and with great precision. Ideally, there should be no reduction in the amount of service you give your customers and any changes should be communicated to them well so they understand what is going on. Make sure that you are aware of what changes there are going to be, so that you begin to work towards them – and keep your employees engaged and informed on that as well.
In most cases, you will be able to keep your staff on and keep the business running by approaching things in this way. For many businesses, this is going to prove to be the perfect compromise, so it’s definitely something that you should think about.
6. Work Remotely
As well as offering remote services, you can look into the possibility of letting some of your employees continue to work remotely. You are likely doing this already in some capacity and when the lockdown is lifted you will probably at least want a skeleton staff working in the office again. But to ensure employee safety and comfort, it probably will be just that – a skeleton staff – and you won’t be able to have everyone there straight away.
Those who can continue working from home for a while, should and you need to send out instructions on this as soon as possible for when the lockdown is lifted. You will find that this gets around many of the problems that come with your staff being uncomfortable at work. It will also mean that you can keep the functionality of your business strong.
7. Cross-Train Your Workers
When you are trying to work out how to deliver everything you normally deliver, but with less staff in-house to help you out, then you need to consider the possibility of cross-training your workers in a number of areas across the business. By doing that, you are going to find that you can run operations as normal, or nearly normal, and still keep people employed. That is going to be hugely important and in many cases, it might not take as long as you might assume.
Some of the most important areas to cross-train employees will be those which are related to the administrative tasks in business as well as delivering your services to customers effectively.
By focusing on these things, you should be able to ensure that you are not stressing them out, but also that you are helping them to keep their jobs – and keep your business financially comfortable.
8. Make Smaller Changes For Big Effects
There are also a number of other smaller changes that you can implement if you want to keep your employees feeling comfortable. For instance, you would be amazed at what a difference it can make to introduce a few natural plants into the space, particularly those that clean and purify the air. These plants are going to make the office feel much more comfortable and safe, and your employees will be glad about that.
You can also allow your employees to take longer breaks and loosen the restrictions on sick/vacation days. Right now is a very stressful time for many and even these two smaller changes can make a huge difference.
In addition,we highly suggest you put up hand sanitizing stations, provide disinfectant wipes, and give employees masks and/or gloves if they want them.
All in all, there are plenty of things you can do to make your employees feel more comfortable when they return to work.