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Four tips for welcoming staff back into a post-COVID-19 workplace
1. Let your staff know what to expect
Your staff may have a lot of questions about returning to the workplace after the pandemic, and when and how this will happen. As the employer, you can make the process easier and more comfortable for your employees by communicating your plans with them before they return. This way, they will know exactly what to expect when they walk through the door on their first day back.
Your staff will benefit from knowing when the company will reopen its doors and which new rules will be in place in terms of social distancing and the use of facilities. Providing as much information as possible about what to expect on arrival (i.e. availability of vaccinations, facemasks and sanitiser) will help employees to overcome anxiety about returning and ensure the new rules are followed.
2. Make the working environment a safe place
The health crisis has increased our awareness of health and safety. With supermarkets prompting all customers to sanitise their hands and trolleys at the door, employees will expect to see similar measures being implemented by their company. Clearly signposting where staff can find hygiene stations (and how to use them) and new rules and regulations will help them to feel safe once they leave the comfort of their home, making them more likely to leave their home office and return to work. This should include communicating how to use meeting rooms, cafeterias, lifts and other communal areas.
Routine screenings and temperature checks not only ensure the workplace is safe, but show staff that measures are being taken to protect them.
3. Consider a staggered start back to work
After months of online communication and working in a quiet corner of the house, suddenly being back in a busy office or factory could be overwhelming for employees. While some employees may be excited about returning to work, others may need more time to get used to the situation which could be very different to where they have been working at home.
Effectively supporting employees during the transition back to the workplace will help to minimise these challenges. This support could involve considering a staggered start back to work – continuing to work from home a few days each week for the first few weeks to slowly readjust to a different working environment.
4. Assess and update your organisation’s support systems
The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged many people in different ways. It is important to acknowledge this and check that the HR system and support offerings take this into account and offer appropriate support.
This might mean ensuring there is a confidential helpline or email address employees can reach out to if they have concerns about commuting to work again. It could also mean updating flexible working policies to allow staff to continue the working routines they have maintained over the last year or to fit in childcare responsibilities as they have been able to during the pandemic.
To learn more about the impact of the pandemic on the world of work, see our Four job sectors in high demand as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic
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