After several months of stay-home requirements and business shutdowns, companies across the U.S. are beginning to make plans for what comes next. For many companies, that means reopening and attempting to get back to normal as much as is possible. As your company prepares to reopen, your employees might be concerned about what going back to work will mean for them.
Addressing their concerns and doing what you can to make your business a safe place to work will help your team feel supported and engaged during this challenging time. Here’s what you can do to help your team as your business prepares to reopen.
Arrange the Workplace to Make Social Distancing Easy
Although the curve has flattened and the number of cases of COVID-19 has started to drop in many places, the risk created by the virus isn’t completely gone. Your business will still need to follow social distancing and other practices to minimize the risk of coronavirus spreading.
If you are bringing employees back on-site, prepare the workplace before their return. If you previously had an open office layout with desks spaced close together, space the desks at least 6 feet apart and consider setting up partitions between each. In a retail setting, consider opening every other checkout register. In reception or break rooms, block off seats so that people don’t sit directly next to each other. In areas where a line might form, such as by checkout register, mark the floor with tape so that people can clearly see how far they should be from others.
Encourage Employees to Take Precautions
The CDC’s current guidelines recommend that people wear cloth face masks when they are in settings with other people. The masks can help to catch droplets and minimize the spread of the virus. Ask your employees to wear masks while they are working, especially if your team members see a lot of people throughout the day.
You can also encourage frequent handwashing. When your team returns to work, distribute bottles of hand sanitizer to them to keep by their desk or workstation.
Hang up Signs and Notices
Everyone needs a gentle reminder now and then of the new rules. Hang up signs around the workplace reminding people to stay at least 6 feet from others and to wash their hands frequently. It might be particularly helpful to hang handwashing reminders in the restrooms. The reminders can explain the best way to wash hands to reduce the spread of germs.
Check-In With Employees Individually
One way you can support your team is by scheduling one-on-one check-ins with them before they return to work. Everyone on your team is likely to have different needs and concerns right now. For example, parents of school-aged children might not have an option for childcare right now, if the schools remain closed. Older employees or people with certain health conditions might be worried about potential exposure to the virus.
Now is the time to be flexible. If employees can work from home and have a reason to stay home, such as children or health concerns, allow and encourage them to do so. You might also consider allowing people to work more flexible schedules or might want to stagger schedules so that fewer people are in the workplace at the same time.
Evaluate Your Company’s Leave and Remote Work Policies
Remember to be flexible as you get ready to reopen. Now is a good time to re-examine your company’s leave policies as well as your remote work policies. You might also want to reconsider your business’ opening hours. Being open for longer, but with fewer employees on-site at any one time might be the best way to move forward for the time being.
Share Your Plan With Your Employees
One thing that the coronavirus has made clear is that it’s all too easy for misinformation to spread. It’s essential that you clearly communicate your company’s reopening plan with everyone on your team and that everyone on your team understands what is going on.
You can send the plan to your employees over email or have one person from each department be responsible for sharing the information with the people who work with them. Along with outlining how the workplace will look, what the expectations and regulations will be, and what people’s options are if they have health or other concerns, the plan should also give employees a clear method of communicating with you. Encourage people to ask questions or make suggestions.
Even after your business reopens, you might find yourself wondering "what’s next?" A virtual CFO can help you navigate this time of uncertainty and make a plan to help your company thrive in the months and years to come. Contact New Direction Capital to learn more.