It is true that at this point, it is too early to predict when India’s workforce will be returning to their offices in full swing. However, considering the fact that businesses are looking forward to a phased return to work approach, it is prudent to start preparing the workplaces for the return of your employees. The current scenario will change soon as states and the government have started to lift the stay at home orders in certain places. In some cases, a little notice has been served to private businesses. Let us take a look at a few steps that businesses will be following as they design their return to work plan in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Build your return to work planning team Businesses will need to develop a multi-disciplinary team that will be accountable for implementing and monitoring a return to work plan. This team may comprise of leaders from different verticals of your company like human resources, health and safety, operations, technology and the like. As a business owner, you can also consider hiring external advisors like public health professionals in order to get better guidance as you reconfigure the workplace in order to accommodate social distancing between employees. As we are uncertain regarding the lasting impact of the virus, this planning team should remain assembled in order to monitor any issue which might arise upon the return to work of your employees. Develop individualized and flexible return to work program The return to work plan for every business will be unique and you might be required to develop different plans based on your location and function. The key factors that you need to consider is the location of your workplace, number of employees working in the location, ability to maintain proper social distancing and the reliance of your employee on public transportation. It is also important to develop a workplan that can adapt itself to changing recommendations and guidelines issued by the Indian state governments. Sending out the right communication with return to work graphics By putting up return to work signs in your office lobbies, common areas, reception area and restrooms, you can send out time to time communication to your employees. The Covid signage for office, when put up with the right message and at the right place, is bound to get noticed by your employees as they pass by that place. These signs for office can convey important message regarding basic hygiene, hand washing, social distancing and also communicate the important local and state government mandates on a regular basis to your employees. Getting the workplace ready What is very important in designing a back to work plan is getting workplace controls and strategies in place. This will minimize the exposure risks of your employees and mitigate the liability risks of you as an employer and business owner. The key considerations in this regard include:
- Implement the basic preventive measures: you need to educate your employees on the preventive measures and good hygiene practices. It is important to establish practices for social distancing and perform regular environment cleaning and disinfection.
- Implement workplace controls: it is important for you to increase the ventilation rates in your workplace and install high quality air filters. You need to establish policies so that you can limit the number of employees and visitors at the workplace at any given time. Configure the work stations to ensure proper social distancing by putting up partitions between workspaces and provide personal protective equipment like masks, gloves and protective eye wear to your employees. They need to be given training and education on the proper use of these protective wear.
- Implement procedures to identify suspected employees: conduct regular health screenings like body temperature checks for employees and make it a compulsion for employees entering the workplace to pass through this test. Encourage your employees to self-monitor for the signs and symptoms of Covid-19 and also put policies in place to deal with employees who report sick or are experiencing the symptoms of the virus.