At some point the coronavirus crisis will end and we’ll resume our day-to-day lives. However, life will not necessarily ‘go back to normal.’ Officials predict the social and economic impacts will last years. A key factor to keep in mind is how we can steadily transition to a ‘new normal.’
The effects of the current crisis came swiftly. We tumultuously flew into unfamiliar, uncharted territory on both personal and professional levels. Although we lacked proper preparation at the onset of these events, what we can prepare for in the coming weeks is a smoother re-assimilation process. Our leading suggestions for planning this process are to: slowly reintroduce normal workplace lifestyles, focus on maintaining physical and mental health, put procedures in place for routine cleaning, and proactively develop contingency plans for future emergencies.
1. Slowly transition and reintroduce normal work lifestyles
Allowing employees to report back to work all at once poses a massive risk for spreading viruses and causing a second wave of cases. The safest plan of action is to stagger reintroduction. Establish a group rotation of employees to come into the office on specific days.
Another strategy we recommend implementing in conjunction with rotating groups is to continue allowing employees to work remotely. A balanced schedule of working from home part of the week and coming into the office the rest of the week can be advantageous for multiple reasons. Employees can continue to practice social distancing while also allowing a sense of employment security if they’re not comfortable returning to the office yet. Read more about ways to engage remote workers.
2. Maintain your employees’ mental and physical health
Returning to an office setting after weeks or months presents potential discomfort and readjustment. While the primary objective for returning employees is to protect their physical health, it’s crucial to keep their emotional well-being in mind as well. Many businesses will undergo major changes to staff, policies, and production. Remind your team that you’re all experiencing this together. Offering support and encouragement is essential to boosting morale.
3. Create cleaning procedures & modify workplace setup
This crisis can serve as a way to identify areas for improvement in your workplace cleaning procedures. Social distancing practices are expected to continue long after the pandemic has ended. Therefore, businesses will need to adapt to these social changes. It’s important to focus on changes such as re-configuring physical work spaces, provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and observe diligent hygiene practices. Returning to work does not mean that the virus is no longer a threat. Continue taking precautionary safety measures in the interest of your employees, your clients, and your business.
4. Use reactive approaches to better plan for proactive responses
As businesses slowly reopen and people return to work, there will be heightened caution and concern about job security. People will be looking to their employers for assurance and how they responded during the crisis.
The best reactive measure is to analyze the conditions that were unpredictable and under-prepared for. Use this as an opportunity to proactively respond to future events. Take the time to develop anticipatory policies and contingency plans. Even if nothing quite like this happens again, there’s reassurance alone in knowing what to do if it does. It’s a simple, yet effective way to ease the worries of your employees. It’s better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.
Everyone is experiencing the struggles and effects of COVID-19. We are not alone in this. What we can do is support each other and take each day at a time. Additional coronavirus resources and information available to both workers and employers can be found here.