These past few months have been crazy and uncertain with the COVID-19 pandemic. However, things are finally starting to slow down and many businesses are considering bringing employees back into the workplace.

It is important that everyone realize that things will not go back to business as usual, and there is a new normal.

While research is still being done on the novel coronavirus, there is still a lot that is unknown and making it a difficult decision for many employers to allow employees to come back together. In addition to new cleaning and disinfecting measures, employers should also look at other factors to determine the best way to bring employees back into the office. It may be best to form a task force made up of people from various departments to evaluate the best way to bring everyone back to the office.

Here are some of the things you, as an employer, must think about when creating a “Back to the Workplace” plan:

  • Provide cleaning materials and encourage all employees to wipe down surfaces often. Make clear guidelines for common areas and other shared spaces. Have a cleaning schedule to ensure surfaces are disinfected. Provide directions for the correct way to disinfect surfaces and go over them with employees.
  • Have a policy in place for what to do when an employee starts showing symptoms. Consider taking employees’ temperatures when they come into the office. Decide whether or not employees are required to wear proper PPE while in the office and if PPE materials are provided.
  • Update policies regarding remote work. Some workers may be considered high-risk or live with someone who is high-risk and need to remain at home. Others may have children they need to stay home with because schools have closed. It is important to be clear with your employees on what is expected of them if they choose to remain working remotely. Many organizations have relied heavily on technology during this time and may continue to utilize tools that make working remotely possible.
  • Continue to follow social distancing guidelines in the office. The CDC still recommends people limit contact with other by social distancing. Different ways businesses can do this is by having people come in in shifts on different days and moving workspaces to distance them from others.

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Making the decision to bring employees back to the workplace entails looking at many factors and is not something to be rushed. This new normal means adapting to doing things differently. Take the time to develop a plan and protocols to help keep you and your employees safe and healthy.

For more information about COVID-19 and the workplace, see Apex’s Resource Page.