It looks like the US will be reopening slowly, perhaps county by county, but the fact is that where ever you are, your business will eventually get the chance to resume working in the office. When that chance comes, what will you do?
At this point, my assumption about the “Level 1” opening is that it will occur while there is still a substantial risk of asymptomatic carriers (meaning that you could have employees who have the virus and don’t know it)! If that’s the case, we need to think through how we keep our teams safe if we want, or need, to reopen our office or workplace.
Why can’t we just stay at home?
While work-from-home may be working for your team, some folks don’t have a functional work-from-home situation. Maybe their space isn’t right; there are too many distractions or people around for them to be productive. Additionally, some jobs require tools or access to records and information that you can’t get at home. How can you safely bring these people back?
Here are some questions you need to be able to answer before you reopen:
- How will you maintain a safe distance between people in the office?
- Can we work with folks in the office at different times to maintain distance?
- Will you require masks in the office? Will you provide masks?
- How will you keep the office clean? What about restrooms and public spaces?
- What will you do if someone tests positive in your office? In the building?
- What will be your travel policy? At what point will you ask people to travel?
- How will you respond to team members who don’t feel safe working in the office?
- How will you accommodate team members who’s children are not able to go to school?
- What should team members do if they feel sick or if they have a family member who is sick? How will you treat sick time?
- If I’ve been sick, when should I come back to the office?
What else are you thinking through as you are considering how to reopen your workplace? What am I missing?
Keep in mind that your employee’s health is more important to them than your business operation. If you don’t communicate clearly and frequently about your concern for their health, they may decide not to return to the office. Being prepared for these questions and objections will engender trust and help ensure your plan rolls out smoothly.