I’ve received some great responses to my “Here We Are, What’s Next” post on Planning for Return and going to dive a little deeper into areas of consideration.

We are starting to see states loosening up stay-at-home guidelines with an effort to boost business and the economy. Many people considered “essential workers” have continued to show up onsite – at the manufacturing facility, office, hospital, grocery store or other workplace. And working with new protocols designed to keep them safe and healthy. The vast majority, however, have shifted to work-from-home status (or been furloughed, laid off, etc.).

As people and companies look forward to “reopening” their workplaces and a return to a new normalcy, there are still many questions and uncertainties about how it will really work.

Companies should have a Return Team established, with a specific focus on Readiness to Return. For more info on that, check out this post.

As your company builds its Return Plan, consider these items when considering People.

What do employees need to feel “safe” in returning to the workplace? There is no one-size-fits-all answer here. A major energy company I spoke with recently is surveying a segment of its employee population to ask that very question. Testing this with a variety of your employees is a great way to gain insights.

Can you adhere to Social Distancing and other health-related norms in the workplace?

  • If social distancing is not possible, then identify alternatives: Use of facemasks; Alternating shifts or days in the office
  • Implement procedures / guidelines around health. Currently, some workplaces are taking temperatures when employees arrive at work and have other health-related protocols. What makes sense for you workplace?
  • Implement processes or guidelines to ensure social distancing: For general interactions, Meetings, Breakroom, Restrooms
  • Revisit processes, tools or norms to ensure hygiene and sanitization: Availability of hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes, use of facemasks, extra cleaning shifts for common or individual areas

Who goes back to the workplace and when? Options could include:

  • Employees return all at once
  • Employees return in waves or phases
  • Employees work alternating days

A number of companies are considering phased returns to the workplace, based on roles, benefit of onsite presence and continued ability to work remotely. The effectiveness and ability of this will depend largely on the size and type of workforce you have.

Is transportation available? How will employees get to work?

  • Is public transportation available? For instance, the Houston Metro is currently running very limited routes. For those employees that rely on public transportation, the availability and timing of routes needs to be considered.
  • What protocols should be followed for employees using public transportation?

Do your employees have sufficient resources at home to enable returning to the office?

  • Families with young children or elderly parents or immuno-compromised family members may have difficulty returning to the workplace until they have solutions for childcare, eldercare, etc. In many cases, school is out and childcare is unavailable. People are not able to return to the workplace until summer school / summer childcare has started.)
  • Consider how to adjust and accomodate return to the workplace based on personal circumstances

What lessons have you learned from the current “stay at home” mandate and how can you adjust your workplace policies and protocols?

  • Implement / maintain flexible workplace policies
  • Encourage staff to stay home if feeling ill (some companies are eliminating max # sickdays)
  • Utilize your new work-from-home and telecommuting skills to make this a regular occurrence.

We are all looking forward to the return to “normal”. Helping your employees and your workplace truly be ready is critical to its success.