As we gradually begin to take advantage of the lockdown relaxations to return to work and resurrect our social lives, businesses and employees are trying to measure the future of the workspace. The prolonged lockdown to flatten the curve, has changed the way in which people work. A large number of employees in the organized sector has been working from home all this time and while in the IT sector this is a common concept, this was a first for people from other sectors and industries. While some enjoy working from home as it has it’s own perks like saving time and money on the daily commute, working flexibly and from the comfort of home, it still cannot be perceived as a permanent solution in this country.
Generally when an IT employee works from home, a significant number still continues to work from the workplace. Employees of a few organizations did not entirely work from home, however, the number was significant compared to the size of the sector. The lockdown has changed all of this. As businesses are an important part of the chain, they pose the question that what is the return to work checklist that the employer needs to comply with by checking off the rules as stated by the government to offer a healthy working environment?
India has forayed into several lockdowns since March and we can already sense what changes these lockdowns have brought to the economy. The real question now is, how long is this economic standstill going to last? Lockdown has been like a double sided sword that at one point necessitated the containment and on the other resulted in a destabilization of the economy. Now, people and the government are tip toeing towards curbing the virus and the recession altogether.
At the outset, both the employee and employer needs to be aware of everything that is going around in the society at large. Checks on the health of the employee and sanitization of the office space is absolutely necessary and although the awareness prerequisite may seem quite trivial yet its absence might be catastrophic for your business and your employees. All the employers are required to follow the reports and guidelines of WHO, the central government and local authorities in order to have a hold over the situation that not just concerns the well being of the employees but also to make informed business decisions based on the latest government updates. Employers are also required to issue a guidance reports in offices before the commencement of return to work and offer all the required trainings which should also include people in housekeeping and security jobs. Various awareness materials like signage and posters needs to be displayed at all the conspicuous areas of the workplace (even in regional languages) as a constant reminder of hygiene and safety. In order to help businesses expedite their return to work program, ARC Document Solutions is offering a wide collection high quality of Covid-19 safety graphics and posters, which are available in multiple languages and sizes.
The next step is meticulous planning of a well devised course of action for the coming days. To begin with, all businesses need to set up a response team that would comprise of key management personnel specialized in dealing with this new need of the hour. Communication policies need to be reviewed and reassessed which should include minimal physical interactions and promote proper social distancing. Work from home still needs to be promoted whenever possible and this can be efficiently achieved with the help of a reliable channel of communication. Moreover, travel policies are needed to be revised to limit all the non essential traveling for the time being. In order to offer flexibility, a business needs to look for alternative source of creditors and suppliers to ensure an uninterrupted supply chain in the coming days which might arise out of any contingency.
Basic measures of prevention
As pointed out by the Ministry of Labor and Employment, every employer needs to ensure the basic preventive measures in order to be able to offer a safe workplace environment amidst the coronavirus crisis. You need to ensure proper cleaning and regular sanitization of the workplace, more particularly of the frequently touched surfaces. Regular supply of hand sanitizers and promotion of regular hand washing by employees and customers is needed to be done. You need to advise employees who are at a higher risk of contacting the virus, like older employees, pregnant women and medically vulnerable employees would need additional precautionary measures or they need to be allowed to work remotely. It must be ensured that these employees do not get exposed to any front line work that requires direct contact with public.
The employers now have too many challenges to surmount within a very short period of time and hence the best checklist for an employer would be to make employees aware of the situation at hand and make plans to take direct action at the lower level to deal with situations that are contingent on it. In these times, adopting the guidelines issued by WHO and our central and local governments in the day to day operations is going to be the key to crisis management and mitigation.