Take small steps and introduce relevant policies for a productive return to the workplace.
Now that employers need to prioritize the latest workplace safety requirements, the winning strategy is to align them with your organizational culture. This approach will boost your company’s potential to get through the current turbulent times. High team engagement and productivity fuel flexibility and a growth mindset.
Here are the milestones for ensuring a healthy team and a healthy business.
Create actionable safety policies
Designing and communicating safety guidelines relevant to your organization and industry is the first step when reopening the workplace to your team. The creation of new policies and procedures is essential in uncertain times for two main reasons.
First, a formal set of guidelines will enable your management to keep track of the situation. Any cause for concern will be easier to detect when there are clear policies that each organizational unit has to follow.
Second, employees will need support and guidance more than ever during this transition. Make the back-to-office communication consistent and easy to understand. Ensure that staff members comply with the new procedures, especially in terms of workplace safety.
Integrate safety in your culture
Some of the best solutions to new challenges come from a bottom-up approach. Employees are fully capable of providing smart, cost-effective ideas to improve workplace safety. Moreover, they will be much more engaged with the implementation if they were involved in the creation.
Listen carefully to what people from all levels of the organization have to say about new processes, routines, and safety standards. Be proactive in asking them if there is anything that would help them feel more comfortable and productive while doing their job back at your premises.
Paying attention to the experience and opinions of staff members will help you adjust current policies. Even more importantly, it will develop a culture of openness within the organization. Employees will feel valued and they will appreciate the opportunity to speak up.
Organize office occupation and visitor flow
Businesses of all sizes have already implemented convenient systems for decreasing the number of coworkers in the same space at the same time. There are several strategies to achieve this.
Organize staff into groups and schedule their onsite or remote work on different days of the week. Plan gaps between shifts to allow for frequent sanitation procedures.
Have a protocol for welcoming external visitors such as clients or partners to the workplace. Create a list of all points within the workspace which employees and visitors use frequently. These can include the entry and exit points of the building and office, elevators, recreational areas, parking, and so on.
Redesign workplace layout
Organizations approach safety according to the layout and design of their workplace. Open-plan office spaces might require more adjustments than cubicles or team-based clusters.
Move furniture around, especially in an open-plan office, in a way that complies with recommended practices for physical distancing. Take extra precautions or limit the use of shared spaces such as conference rooms, auditoriums, and cafeterias.
Other types of workspaces, such as manufacturing facilities, will need to introduce physical distancing in a way that is relevant to their industry.
Company culture plays an important role in office dynamics. Social distancing and workplace restructuring might feel strange at first, especially for close-knit teams who are used to casual interaction. Consider the culture of your workplace when changing its layout, but prioritize safety.
Build on results
Chances are this is the first time your organization has had to carry out these actions for workplace safety. Monitor your success, evaluate results, and make amendments as necessary.
It is important to take a step back and assess what worked well for your employees, clients, partners and for your workplace as a whole. What were the main challenges during the transition back to work and what could be done better?
Regular assessment of the current situation will prepare you for what might come next. At the same time, keep a balanced approach to short- and long-term planning. The economic downturn and developments within your industry could be unpredictable. Be ready to adapt again and again.