Sarah Thomas

Planning for a return to the office will look different for each company and industry, and some companies may elect to remain working remotely indefinitely. If you are creating a plan for employees to return to the office, there are several factors to keep in mind. Learn how you as HR can plan for a post-COVID return to work for your employees.

Plan for Increased Remote Work

Even if you do plan to have employees return for in-person work eventually, plan for an increase in remote working no matter what. Some employees have adjusted to working remotely, and many companies will likely reduce office sizes now that many jobs have been completed from home for months on end. Bamboo HR reports that 65% of employees find that they’re more productive at home, so some employees may opt to remain working from home at least some of the time, even when the office does reopen. The option to work remotely is important for employees who show symptoms of illness so that they don’t spread any illness at the office.  Create flexible terms for remote work. Ensure that every employee has accessible technology to complete their job from home if possible.

Create a Clear Safety Plan for Post-COVID Return to Work

Work with upper management to create a clear safety plan reflecting the most recent guidelines from federal, state, and local health officials. Within your plan, you should account for:

  • Increased sick time

  • Remote work opportunities when possible

  • Limiting work travel

  • A return-to-office timeline

  • Safety procedures within the office

  • Health screening protocols and self-screening protocols

  • Cleaning and sanitizing procedures for the office

  • Limitations that include how many employees are allowed in the building at once

  • Alternative work situations for high-risk individuals

  • EAP and FSA accounts and how they are used during COVID

  • Any potential changes in work status and how you will handle them

Once you have a clear and easy to understand safety plan, share this plan with your employees. Then, ensure that each employee understands the plan.

Create a Business Continuity Plan

SHRM recommends creating a business continuity plan or revising any plan that was already in place. This plan does not need to be communicated to your employees. You will need to review the plan with upper management and stakeholders. This plan includes any emergency closing information and protocols for keeping the business moving in the event of emergencies.

Focus on Engagement

The COVID pandemic has been incredibly stressful on everyone, including your employees. Any transition back to the office will also be a stressful transition. It is important to remain focused on maintaining company culture and keeping your employees engaged during this transition, so they feel a sense of stability.   If you have employees that will be staying remote, give them tools to ensure that they don’t become burned out. It’s important to keep remote employees and in-person employees connected. Work on team building with all of your employees by having them take our assessment and using our Team Room to see how your team functions as a group.

Hire the Right Employees

More than ever, it is important to find the right fit employee. Many companies are experiencing budget cuts and potential hiring freezes. So, it’s imperative that you have the right employee in the right job. Utilize the talent that you already have within your organization and focus on mobility. Have your employees take our assessment and use our PIC report to ensure that each employee is working in a role that plays to their strengths.  Take note of hiring trends that are taking place this year and streamline your recruitment to get the best talent if you are hiring outside of the company.

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