After speaking with a broad sampling of business leaders and HR executives and reviewing numerous Return to Work plans, Bedsiide has identified these 5 steps your team may want to consider in determining how to provide a safe work environment for returning employees. Bedsiide’s population health team is available to help with your Return to Work plan and COVID-19 monitoring. We can develop customized recommendations to enable your organization to mitigate risks and promote overall employee health.
5 Steps to Returning to Work Safely
Create A Plan
Creating a Return to Work Plan that aligns closely with your company’s mission will help smooth the transition back into the workplace. Start with the end goal in mind and make sure the plan aligns with your culture. Constantly responding to changing advice and guidance this past year has certainly taken its toll. Astute leaders lean on core beliefs and values to create consistency in changing times.
If you decide to survey employees about their views, be sure to include a mechanism to consider and implement the feedback. A follow-up resampling at specific intervals may be useful. Sometimes a simple acknowledgment of the received feedback may alleviate hesitancies or give employees a sense of inclusion.
All employees should be encouraged to stay home when they are sick. Vaccinated employees who experience seasonal allergies are not contagious and should report to work unless otherwise advised by their provider.
Communicate Your Plan
After clearly communicating the plan to all employees, frequently check in on how it has been received and restate your expectations. Knowing you have a plan for keeping everyone safe will alleviate some of the stress of returning to the workplace.
Examine Your Physical Workplace
Refer to OSHA’s updated guidance: Protecting Workers: Guidance on Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace (June 2021). If vaccination rates are low and community spread is increasing in your community, unvaccinated employees are at risk of getting COVID-19, and precautions such as physical distancing and mandatory face coverings should be implemented.
Any vacant buildings may present hazards that need to be addressed such as mold, pests, or stagnant water. Following CDC’s guidance: COVID-19 Employer Information for Office Buildings (April 2021) will ensure your facility is ready for occupancy. Standard lead times may need to be extended for this work so plan accordingly.
As a clean work environment continues to be a priority, the CDC recommends a daily cleaning routine that includes wiping down and disinfecting high-touch areas.
Monitor COVID-19 and Be Ready to Adjust
The SARS-CoV-2 virus has become part of our lives. Whether it is news of a novel variant that evades vaccine immunity or the need for a booster shot, the science will evolve. You may want to refrain from publishing detailed contingency plans that project too far in the future. Public health guidelines will continue to be updated frequently. Commit to monitoring community spread and hospitalizations at regular intervals and adapting protocols as necessary.
Pre-wrapped snacks and box lunches are advisable. Sharing a meal or visiting with coworkers during breaks is often a highlight of the workday. If done safely it can be a way to rebuild some office camaraderie and provide comfort.