Essentially every employer and worker in the country has had to – at least, to some extent – adapt their practices to the novel coronavirus and global health crisis. As more and more businesses are beginning to open their doors, it is to a new normal. There are a number of considerations that must be made in order to keep employees as healthy as possible while complying with the law.
These factors will vary to some extent by industry and location. For this reason, it is always important to check with your local government requirements, as well as see if there are any new mandates being made by the CDC. That said, this can act as a starting point for your organization to return to work – safely.
There are a lot of considerations that should inform your initial strategy. There may be some employees that are able to continue to work remotely or ways that you can stagger work shifts to reduce the number of people on staff at certain times. It is important that these decisions are made based on job-related factors, and cannot be seen as being discriminatory.
Comply with Federal, State, and Local Laws
Depending on where your organization is located or how it is categorized, you may be required to follow a particular set of guidelines to ensure safe reopening. This could include things like sanitation practices, social distancing requirements, or the usage of personal protective equipment. You should be prepared to accommodate employees who are at higher risk and check on benefits eligibility for any workers who were laid off earlier in the year.
Communicate with Your Staff
This is a difficult time for everyone to navigate. It would be helpful to create a communications guide that lays everything out for your employees and which they can return to. Anticipate any questions that they may have so that you can proactively provide answers. This should lay out any new procedures, policies, or training requirements. You should also make sure that you articulate your dedication to their health and safety.
Start to Bring People Back – Thoughtfully
Ideally, employees will have received your communications guide prior to coming back to work. This will give them a chance to digest the material. Once they are on-site, you will need to go over any new training to ensure safety and compliance. Consider things like whether meetings can be conducted via video conference and whether travel is essential.
It is a difficult time for all of us, and probably will be for some time. By being thoughtful about reopening your organization and clearly communicating expectations to your employees, you can make this process as safe and comfortable as possible.