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Checklist for Re-opening Offices post-COVID

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Checklist for Re-opening Offices post-COVID

The COVID-19 crisis has engulfed almost the entire world and brought most business activities to a complete standstill. With most places opting for the lifting of the lockdowns, organizations are looking at returning to work from the office. This checklist for re-opening offices post-COVID-19 lockdown can help organizations keep health and safety measures at the forefront.

Key Concerns for Organizations post-COVID

Organizations understand that returning to work from the office might not be as easy as flipping a light switch.

In fact, it might not return to the pre-COVID like normalcy for a long time. It would take the combined efforts of the HR, the management and the employees to gradually get the business operations running smoothly.

For most organizations, their HR, Admin, and Facilities teams will be leading this effort. They will play a critical role in the necessary planning, logistics, and support required in this entire process.

The major concern for organizations would be balance business continuity with employee health and safety.

World Health Organizations (WHO) guidelines for employee health and safety

How should Organizations Address the issue of Employee Safety during the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Organizations fully understand that though they are resuming operations, the threat of COVID-19 is still high. Hence, they need to implement the World Health Organization (WHO)and government guidelines to ensure employee health and safety.

This is essential to ensure business continuity and minimization of the risk of COVID-19 spread at the workplace. Hence, organizations need to come up with effective policies and standard operating processes to mitigate this risk:

Checklist for Re-opening Offices post-COVID-19

1. Rethink employee density at the office

Covid

The concept of social distancing is going to become the new norm as people return to work. Hence organizations need to rethink employee density permissible at the workplace to avoid the risk of transmission.

They need to consider alternate seating arrangements and avoid physical meetings and gatherings of employees to ensure safe social distancing. Organizations also need to enable as many employees as possible to continue to work from home to reduce workplace density.

Read more about the Benefits of Work from Home for organizations as well as the employees.

2. Clearly define the safety protocols at the workplace

Covid

Also, organizations need to clearly define the safety protocols for social distancing and hygiene at the workplace. Such measures should cover screening, wearing masks, travel, seating, meetings, common areas, and sanitization of the workplace.

Virtual meetings should replace in-person meetings as much as possible. It is also important to stagger the canteen timings and ensure social distancing and hygiene. Social distancing needs to be followed even at the pantry and disposable cups etc. should be used. In addition, organizations should work constantly and visibly to generate awareness about the importance of maintaining personal hygiene and safety.

3. Implement an effective screening process

Screening

Another important step for organizations to make their workplaces safe for employees is an effective screening process. These daily screening protocols can help in minimizing the chances of employees unknowingly bringing the COVID-19 virus into the workplace.

These measures should include thermal screening, voluntary self-declaration, wearing of masks, and using COVID-19 applications such as the Arogya Setu. Security personnel should be may send back employees home for the day if in doubt about their health. They should even screen visitors and vendors and ensure that they wear masks compulsorily.

4. Keep the workplace clean and sanitized

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Another important aspect to be considered by the organizations is to ensure the constant cleaning and sanitization of the workplace. They should make sure that common areas, touchpoints, and workstations of employees are disinfected regularly. The frequency of cleaning of the workplace should be increased. The cleaning staff should wear personal protective equipment while performing the cleaning.

5. Encourage employees to follow hygiene and social distancing protocols

Social Distancing

Encouraging employees to follow hygiene and safety guidelines is critical for organizations in the post-COVID scenario. Employees should not come to the office if they are not feeling well and should immediately inform their supervisor/ HR. A voluntary declaration of health status, updating COVID apps, ensuring social distancing at the office or traveling in a cab or bus, wearing masks, avoiding crowding in the office pantry, canteen, or common areas, etc. requires the cooperation of employees.

6. Update sick leave policy

Sick Leave

COVID-19 has necessitated policy changes for organizations including the policy related to sick leaves. The HR needs to update the sick leaves policy to cover the current COVID-19 situation. It should cover the number of days of leave if employees test positive themselves or need to care for a positive-tested family member.

Organizations may also consider indefinite remote working for such employees to minimize disruption of work and contain the spread of disease.

Bottom-line

Organizations looking at reopening their workplaces for employees in the near future in this current COVID-19 situation need to carefully plan and implement the necessary processes to minimize the health and safety risks to employees while ensuring business continuity.

Sagar Chaudhuri

Lead author: Sagar Chaudhuri, the Co-Founder and CEO of HiFives. He is an HR Tech Evangelist with over 25 years of experience in the corporate world and entrepreneurship. In the past, Sagar has worked in companies such as Genpact, Infosys, and ICICI Bank, in leadership roles. He has an engineering degree from IIT Kharagpur and an MBA from IIM Lucknow. Connect on LinkedIn

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HiFives is a global employee rewards, recognition and engagement SaaS platform that enables organizations to digitize, automate and transform their employee experience. It is used by 100+ large enterprises, small businesses and startups in manufacturing, retail, technology, financial services and media, across 25+ countries.