Thinking about re-opening? Plan, plan, and plan some more

Have you thought about re-opening? You might say that your local authorities are not anywhere close to lifting stay at home orders. But really, are you thinking about what you need to do to be ready to re-open?

Even if the idea of re-opening is weeks or months away, you need to have a plan and be prepared.

You will need to make changes to policies, workspaces, and  how your employees interact with others.

Workers may be nervous about coming back to the office. They may feel unprepared or not know what to expect. Think about the following strategies to ease the transition.

Review and update your policies and procedures

COVID-19 has changed the way you do business. You need to review and update your policies and procedures. And you need to communicate changes to your workers, so they know what to expect and how to comply.

When coming up with your re-opening strategy, you and your leaders should be asking “what if. . .” 

  • What if an employee tests positive for the coronavirus after returning to work? 
  • What if new cases suddenly increase — and you must go back to working at home? 
  • What if employees have high risk factors?
  • What if an employee asks for leave to care for an infected relative?
  • What if an employee is taking care of a school-aged child (now that school is cancelled)?
  • What if your local authority rules limit the number of staff you can have on-site?
  • What if an employee is not comfortable coming back to work?
  • What if, what if, what if. . .

Do your policies and procedures address these questions? And are they in line with employment law regulations? Think of the “what ifs” so that you are prepared. 

Make changes last until restrictions are lifted or apply until there’s a vaccine. Lift and reinstate as needed.

Address the following strategies in your policies and procedures. And stress their importance to your employees. 

Make the workplace safe

Tell your employees what you are doing to make their workspace safe to work in. Before re-opening, deep clean and disinfect the entire office. Communicate to your staff what they can expect from you. And, what you expect from them.

Will you supply personal protection equipment (PPE) for your workers or are they responsible for their own? They need to know before the come back

Have you considered adding these rules to your policies and procedures?

  • No Personal Contact (limit physical contact that’s not necessary for the job)
  • No Item Sharing (for example, pens, staplers, diskspace, computers, etc., if possible)
  • Reorganize floorplan and workspace to maximize distancing
  • Get rid of common gathering areas to maximize social distancing
  • Communal equipment cleaning guidelines (for communal copy machines, printers, etc.)
  • Limit on how many people can be in a closed room

Encourage cleanliness

Urge your staff to follow health and safety guidelines. Create appropriate face mask rules. And place hand sanitizing stations with plenty of supplies around the office.

Provide information about:

  • Sneeze and cough etiquette (into your elbow or tissue)
  • Hand washing practices
  • Not coming to work when they feel ill
  • Listing of current COVID-19 symptoms

Lead by example. When your employees see leaders following the guidelines, they’re more likely to follow the guidelines too.

Make it easy for staff to follow your health and safety rules by having supplies on hand. This means you need to order supplies ahead of re-opening. Stock up on:

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Soap
  • Tissues
  • Face masks

It takes advance planning to be ready to re-open. Are you prepared? 

Disclaimer

This article shouldn’t be construed as legal advice. If you have detailed questions, they should be addressed directly with your labor and employment attorney.

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