Working from home is about to become just an option. Vaccines are starting to roll out worldwide. While it’s too early to say that things will be back to normal soon, many companies are now trying to transition back to the office. But the question is, are businesses ready for their employees’ comeback?
Your employees may hesitate to return. One study found that 80% of employees don’t want to go back to the office full time. This is understandable. Working from home has so many benefits. It gives employees flexibility. For example, they don’t need to commute. So they can get a few more minutes of sleep or start work early to finish early. They also get to stay at home with their loved ones.
However, working from home isn’t a walk in the park. It has its challenges too. For example, there isn’t much interaction between colleagues, except for text-based messaging or video conferences. Sometimes, text messages can be misconstrued. And having multiple Zoom calls a day is also very draining. Given these struggles, some employees may be willing to go back to the office.
But the question is, are you ready for your employees’ return to the workplace? Consider the following actions in preparing your employees and your office for their safe return:
Ask Your Employees
You can’t force your employees to return to the office, at least not with the pandemic still threatening everyone’s safety. Thus, you need to get their opinion to understand their circumstances.
Consider setting up a questionnaire and require all employees working from home to answer it. You can ask them about their concerns regarding working in the office. You can also ask them why they would like to or not like to go back.
You can also ask your managers to talk to their team members one at a time. A personal conversation may encourage employees to open up more. For instance, maybe employees want to work from home most of the week to avoid unnecessary spending and save money to pay for their car loans or mortgages. Or perhaps someone in their home is at higher risk of COVID-19, so they need to go out less to keep their loved ones safe.
Build a Workplace Transition Plan
You will need to create a return-to-office plan. You can use the information you collected from employees to create one that is tailored to your business and your employees’ needs. For instance, if they’re worried about the workplace’s cleanliness, make sure that you implement regular disinfection in your workplace. Or if they’re willing to go back to the office but not full-time, allow them the flexibility to work in the office for only two to three days.
The plan should also adhere to the guidelines provided by health organizations to create a safe workplace. For example, you will need to require employees to wear masks at all times when within the premises. You may also have to reassign workstations to ensure there’s an appropriate six-foot distance between each employee.
Implement Touchless Technology
The novel coronavirus can stay on surfaces for a long time. For example, it can stay up to five days on metal surfaces, such as doorknobs in your office, and glass surfaces, such as mirrors and windows.
When your employees come to the office, they will inevitably touch surfaces. We can remind them to wash their hands regularly. But realistically, they might forget to do that, especially when they’re too busy.
To minimize their risk, consider using touchless technology around your office. For example, use automatic doors so that your employees don’t have to touch doorknobs anymore. Use motion-sensor alcohol and soap dispensers around the office. Instead of fingerprint sensors, consider using touchless access controls.
Provide Personal Safety Supplies
To show that you really want your employees to stay safe, it’s best to provide them with personal safety supplies. For instance, distribute a safety kit that consists of masks, a hand sanitizer, alcohol wipes, and a pamphlet with useful information (e.g., contact numbers of the nearest healthcare facilities). You also need to make sure that all alcohol dispensers around the office and soap dispensers in restrooms are always filled.
Bringing employees back to the office will need more effort than simply telling them to come back. Understandably, they will have hesitations. As a business owner, you also need to take extra steps in ensuring that the workplace is safe for your employees. This way, they will be more willing to return.
Meta title: How to Prepare Your Workplace for Your Employees’ Return
meta desc: In the post-COVID era, most employees will likely go back to the office. But before they do, you need to assess whether your workplace is ready for their return.