Readying the Workplace for Post-COVID Return

As restrictions continue to ease, employers can start to consider bringing their team back to the workplace. For employers of essential businesses that never left, you may be considering if there is more you should be doing to continue to adhere to state and CDC guidelines. We’ve broken everything employers should consider into four steps below.

Step 1: Considerations Before Employees Return

  • Have you already performed, or hired someone to perform, a thorough cleaning of the workplace? It’s something that is advised to create a fresh start and ensure your workforce is not entering a place that isn’t safe.
  • Consider the layout of the workplace. Are there workstations that are closer than 6 feet? Can those workstations be moved? If not, can you purchase impermeable barriers to place between those workstations to provide additional safety?
  • Consider the number of employees that will be back in the workplace. Are you adhering to state guidelines? Do you need to implement split shifts or a rotating schedule to reduce the number of employees present at one time?
  • Do you have customers or clients that enter the workplace? Do you need any signage for instructions or expectation from your clientele? Do you need to tape a line down to prevent clientele from getting to close so a person/people, such as reception, when they enter?

Step 2: Consider Cleaning Procedures Going Forward

  • What will you require of your employees every day? Do you want them to clean their workstations once per day? Twice? CDC guidelines can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/disinfecting-building-facility.html
  • You should consider all the high-touch or high-use areas in your workplace that will need to be cleaned more often. Make a list so you don’t forget. Examples include:
    • Bathrooms and breakrooms (including the refrigerator and/or microwave handle)
    • The copy machine or printer
    • Shared company vehicles
    • Door handles/knobs and light switches
    • Telephones
    • Tools

Step 3: Consider Company Practices

  • Walk-in clients or foot traffic – do you have enough that you need to make any new rules for them such as calling from the parking lot first?
  • Delivery people – do you need to make a designated drop off and pick up location that doesn’t require direct interaction with your staff?
  • In person meetings – do you need to make a rule to change all meetings to tele-meetings, if you haven’t done so already?
  • Critical meetings that need to be in person – do you need to make rules about what will be required from employees? Masks? Social distancing? No shaking hands?
  • Do any of your employees share things such as tools? Do you need to implement a no sharing policy? Or if sharing is necessary, the tool must be cleaned first or gloves used?
  • Will wellness checks be required? This can range from temperatures being taken to requiring employees to report to management if they’re feeling unwell. Please keep in mind that this information must be kept confidential and not shared with other employees or kept in personnel files.
  • When will masks be required in the workplace? At all times or only when directly interacting with someone?
  • How many people will you allow in a closed room?
  • Will you allow business travel? Employers cannot bar employees from personal travel, but they can make rules around travel for business purposes.
  • Where and how are you documenting these new polices? Do you have a Response Plan created in case OSHA comes knocking? If not, please see our blog on this topic.

Step 4: Clear Communication Regarding Expectations

  • Everyone in a leadership position will need to be on the same page about any and all changes. It goes without saying that those in leadership roles will be the ones who need to ensure all other employees are following new rules. They must be on board if you want to see success.
  • Employees will be worried about what to expect. Tell them about any physical changes in the office and the safety/cleaning measures you will be taking. They’ll also need to be aware of any changes to company policies or procedures. Communicate the CDC guidelines for basic measures to take to prevent spread such as washing hands often, avoiding close contact with others, covering coughs and sneezes, etc. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html
  • Clientele will be unaware of any new procedures unless it is communicated to them. You may want to consider an email explaining expectations or a sign posted at the door.

These unprecedented times brought new and often confusing rules to follow. We hope these four steps will remove some of the confusion and help set employers on the right track for success.