Getting Your Office Ready for The Post-COVID Return to Work
For almost a year, many employees have worked from home. Others have been laid-off indefinitely until business returns to normal. As the one-year mark approaches, many people are beginning to wonder how they can return to the office safely.
As more people receive their vaccines and schools begin to discuss opening for a more regular schedule, people are excited to return to their normal daily lives. While the first stage may not be normal, it is a great step towards the world we once knew.
However, we are still in the midst of a global pandemic. Therefore, employers cannot simply open their doors to business as usual. So, how do employers begin to bring back employees while keeping their safety and needs in mind?
1. Adhere to All CDC Guidelines
As of February 2021, the CDC still recommends all people stay at least 6 feet apart and wear a mask in public. They also suggest a limited capacity for restaurants, businesses, and retail establishments. However, these guidelines are often changing.
Make sure you pay attention to the CDC guidelines for your business. Continue daily health checks and temperature checks for employees before they enter the workplace. Maintain social distancing guidelines. Ensure you demonstrate proper ways to wear a mask to all employees and ensure they follow the instructions.
2. Be as Flexible as Possible
While many people are anxious to get back to work, many may find it difficult. Schools are not operating as normal. Some people have conditions making them high risk. Yet, they have not received their vaccine. People can still get COVID, even though the numbers are getting better.
While the federal government does not mandate paid leave related to COVID anymore, it offers employers the ability to provide these benefits and receive a tax benefit if they choose. Review the options with your HR team to see if you can offer COVID leave or other forms of paid or unpaid leave to employees still in need of time off from work.
Allow those in need to work from home if possible. In some cases, adjust schedules to allow some employees to work evening shifts, providing them the ability to help their children with school during the day.
Understandably, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to returning to work. Some employees have no choice but to work on location during specific hours. However, when flexibility is an option, try to work with your employees to provide reasonable accommodations.
3. Encourage Employee Vaccines
You can mandate COVID vaccines for employees. However, you must allow for ADA and religious exemptions. Furthermore, you may have to prove there is a job-related need for the vaccine.
Instead, you may choose to encourage employees to receive the COVID vaccine. You can offer incentives, such as bringing a nurse into the office to provide the vaccine for employees. You may also allow employees to take a few hours off to receive their vaccine.
Encouraging employees to get the COVID vaccine may help increase employee vaccination without creating issues for those who may have valid reasons to avoid the vaccine.
4. Post Information Regarding Employee Rights and COVID
Make sure your employees know their rights during COVID and returning to work. They need to know what options they may have to take time off of work for COVID-related issues. They need to know their rights regarding vaccinations.
Employees must know their rights during COVID as well as their responsibilities, such as daily health checks and reporting if they have been exposed to COVID. Post the information in a common area, such as a break room. You may even wish to send an email with the information to employees if such a system is used to spread office news.
To learn more about how to prepare your workplace for the after-COVID reopening, contact the HR experts at Workplace HCM at 856.334.9711. Our team of HR experts can help you develop a plan to assist employees returning to work while following the rules of Coronavirus.