It’s time to prepare for return to work – Covid-19

It’s time to start getting back to work. We all need it. Thankfully we now have an outline plan to help guide many of us back to work and our economy back to life. These are important milestone steps and we all have a responsibility to manage this unfamiliar transition effectively.

If you are a Business Owner or a Business Leader you will be charged with managing this for your Business. As I see it, there will be two key responsibilities:

1) Ensuring the Health, Safety and Wellbeing of your returning colleagues

2) Allowing your returning employees get on with restarting the Business by letting them get on with their Jobs.

Number 1 should be your primary concern. You will need to focus building employee trust that you will protect them and make the ‘new normal’ safe for them. They will thank you for this effort and will repay you many times over by putting commitment and energy into restarting and reigniting your Business.

So what should you be paying particular attention to right now, in purely practical terms. All of the following as a minimum;

a) Communication. Communicate regularly with all at home affected employees. Communicate with them before the planned return to Business opening date and build on this especially on Day 1 of return. Focus these communications on how they will be protected and kept safe as they get back to their jobs.

b) Have a Plan, but be prepared to share it and refine it regularly based on feedback and input from all affected employees.

c) Build new visual signage that explains the key aspects of the new ‘onsite normal’ working arrangements. Clearly mark and identify hand wash/sanitiser stations, PPE supply stores, new office layouts, etc.

d) Develop clear new and updated procedures around social distancing, canteen seating, break times, work station spacing, face coverings, etc.

e) Upgrade the office or building cleaning schedules. Build in deeper levels of cleaning and more frequent cleaning intervals.

f) Consider the need to develop new shift patterns and schedules also. Be prepared to seek buy-in and support for new role changes and responsibilities. This will be critical in the early stages of Business recovery.

g) Plan to restrict visitors to your work premises to essential services, mainly deliveries.

h) Provide a forum for all employees to ask questions and seek clarification.

i) Allow staff to settle in to the new work model and focus the first return to work day exclusively around effective communication and Q+A support.

j) As the Business Owner or Business Leader be visual and available to all your staff, especially in the early days of return to work.

Finally always remember your key responsibility, the Health, Safety of each member of your staff. If you can earn that trust, your team will focus on rebuilding the Business and making it even better than before. They will I believe do so with greater buy-in, effort, engagement, collaboration and Teamwork. They will know and see you have their best interests at heart.